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Giving Compass' Take:
• Adrienne Day chronicles the success of KQED, a radio and television station that personalizes grassroots journalism content for its listeners with smart tech and data.
• For a grassroots organization to thrive, why is it important to reach listeners with more personalized content? How do data and tech perform a critical role in doing so? How can your funding help important stations like KQED stay afloat?
The public radio and television station KQED has thrived amid a tumultuous period in the media industry by using technology and data to optimize the delivery of its grassroots journalism and improve relationships with its listeners.
If you’re wondering how, Tim Olson, KQED’s senior vice president of strategic digital partnerships, has two words for you: reach and relationships.
Ensuring the station reaches as many listeners as possible involves some familiar and well-tested steps, such as being part of the public news ecosystem—NPR, PBS, and other outlets. Other approaches are newer, involving partnerships with technology companies such as Apple, Google, Salesforce, and Amazon.
But when it comes to long-term financial sustainability, getting content in front of people isn’t enough; the internet has transformed the advertising business, gutting revenues for traditional publishing outlets. Coverage of local news and less sensational topics has largely dried up along with money from ads. Yet KQED’s newsroom has grown at least 25 percent over the past decade and includes a robust science team. To fill the financial gap, the station needed to increase listener donations, and to do that, they had to get closer to their audience members than ever before.
“We need them to have a relationship with us,” Olson says. “That’s a core theme of the publishing world right now. We need to continue to move into the modern age of: You actually know me and you are providing me digital relationship touch points that are relevant to me.”
The goal, Olson says, is to smartly distribute grassroots journalism in all its forms to the station’s listeners, not create a “filter bubble of editorial.” As KQED’s motto puts it, technology and data should “inform, inspire, and involve.”
Read the full article about grassroots journalism by Adrienne Day at Stanford Social Innovation Review.