BRAND STRATEGY | USER EXPERIENCE | PRODUCT INNOVATION
What if - the future of local news reporting is dictated by the locals?
We made this 100-year-old local paper a trusted news source that millennials in Richmond were willing to pay for. We did so by making the process of consuming local news go from being passive and controlled by the newsroom to becoming more active by putting the local community at the heart of it.
I had never read the Richmond Times-Dispatch before this project so my first step was to read it and understand what the paper was lacking. Through interviews, social listening, and a survey, I learned about the kind of news people seek out versus the kind they consume passively and found out about the impact of news post-consumption. I used these findings to define the problem and inform ideation, prototyping, and user testing.
The death of the bundled model has endangered local news
Before the internet, local newspapers survived on a bundled model, with public-interest stories packaged alongside lifestyle topics like sports, weather, entertainment, etc.
But the internet broke this bundle apart making it easy for digital businesses to capture the most actively sought out part of the paper i.e, lifestyle offerings.
Local news we actively seek
Local news we come across
Events & Entertainment
City Government Policies
People get this news for free
Why are people are not willing to pay just for this?
The news isn't connecting because it's not representating
I don’t find the news to find any real value.
There’s always a lot of “Mark and Tina of Chesterfield saw a black bear crossing the road near Pocahontas state park.
- Scott, 31
Too often, it seems that all the local news presents is (a) breaking news from somewhere in Idaho (speeding car, crash, robbery, etc.) or (b) lots of “heartwarming” nonsense.
- Susan, 35
The newsroom controls all the reporting making the whole process of local news consumption passive.
Readers consume RTD news via newspaper, website, or social media
Reporting controlled & decided by RTD newsroom
Readers are informed about issues in the community
Informed about problems but feel powerless
Left with unanswered questions
News does not relate so they forget about it
How might we make the process of local news consumption more active?
An arm of the Richmond Times-Dispatch that consists of a circle of community members who will be given the opportunity to make sure their voices are heard in local reporting.
The Circle will also focus on reporting not just the problems in the community but also possible solutions, giving people the complete story.
Big Picture Reporting
Providing multiple perspectives and reporting on solutions from other areas with similar issues
Membership vs Subscription
Build a community of like-minded individuals and turn readers into ambassadors
Empowering the community to decide what's going to be reported
Topics selected by the people are covered for a period of 3-4 months.
This ensures that people get multiple perspectives and it also encourages people to follow the news and not forget about it once consumed.
People feel like they are part of a community.
We treat this like a membership and not a subscription.
They are made aware of the benefits of solution based journalism over regular journalism.
People are given a chance to vote on the kind of topics they want us to report.
They get two stickers that they can place on their favorite topics and are given reminders when the results come in making the whole process more interactive and engaging.
My minor was actually in media studies + journalism. This is cool because it pushes action. It feels like it’s flipping traditional journalism on its head.
- Cameron, 26
It makes me feel empowered, and not just because of the aesthetics. The language and individuality made me feel heard, and made me feel like a part of something greater
- Brian, 33
Measure how many of the headlines were the users able to either generally recall or completely recall?
Tasks | Richmond Times Dispatch
Read the headlines of the Top Stories
Visit the ‘About’ Pages
Find how one might submit an idea
Recall Top Headlines
Score: 2 / 4
Tasks | The Circle
Introduce to the Circle’s Home Page
Read Solutions Journalism Process
Complete story selection process
Recall Top Headlines
Score: 4 / 4
Time spent on article
Increase in subscribers
Resource allocation changes
Community happiness index