Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Working to ensure accessibility

In the Feb. 11 post by Heather Lesczcewicz, she introduces the new look of TribLocal as part of the smaller Chicago Tribune.

As she recounts, the redesign basically cleans up the print edition and gives us more room to fit what's important to our readers on our pages.

But there's also some changes that have a specific goal in mind: To let readers of the print edition know exactly how we work. What we know about our readers is that they are either coming to or reading the print edition—but not enough of them are doing both.

TribLocal has given citizen journalism an outstanding platform with its Web site, but we also offer something many hyperlocal initiatives have not: a print section with a dedicated readership. We love our Web site—and without it, we couldn't put out that print edition—but we also know landing on your doorsteps inside the Thursday Chicago Tribune gives us a distinct advantage.

So the redesign features photos of the community managers on the content page where we interact with you each week. And it reminds you on the masthead to go to the Web site. A graphic shows readers that their photos and stories can be contributed to our site and then end up in the paper.

At TribLocal, we believe the way to make "hyperlocal" and "citizen journalism" successful is accessibility. We engage with our readers and contributors as often as we can and we invite you to get in touch with us. Our aim is for the Web site to be simple to navigate, but if you're having difficulty, just call or e-mail us.

Ask any of our contributors. Once they try us, they're hooked. Most of the TribLocal contributors sign up and return often—some several times a week and some every few months. But they keep coming back. One Highland Park blogger contributes his thoughts on community issues nearly every week. Some school districts contribute multiple times a week. Libraries tell us about their events. Local photographers share their favorite shots. The people in our towns find a million ways to interact with us, and we never cease to be amazed by their talent and creativity.

We're on the Internet—in every form of social media you can think of—but we're also in your towns. We hold community workshops at libraries and in schools. And if you'd like us to hold one near you, just ask. We're also happy to arrange one-on-one meetings.

The quest to be better never ends, so we continue to look at ways to work with our communities. As we've said before, we're examining and improving TribLocal in 2010. So if ever you have ideas about how we can be better, let us know.

Those of us in the media industry talk a lot about citizen journalism. Now we at TribLocal are working hard to ensure every reader knows how to become a voice of their town.

—This post was written by Tara May Tesimu, a TribLocal Ethics and Standards Committe member, community manager and blog moderator. It is cross-posted from the TribLocal blog at Chicago Now.

About Me

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Stories are my passion—and I am an advocate for the new, engaging ways to share and create those stories. I grew up in a small town in Michigan and now live and work in the Chicago area.