Wisconsin Paper Lets Readers Help Pick News

Image of Wisconsin State Journal front page, with inset. i i

How it works: Readers on the Web are invited to pick from five stories. One makes the front page. Wisconsin State Journal hide caption

itoggle caption Wisconsin State Journal
Image of Wisconsin State Journal front page, with inset.

How it works: Readers on the Web are invited to pick from five stories. One makes the front page.

Wisconsin State Journal

The editors of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison are letting readers choose the news... part of it, anyway.

In an experiment officially begun this week, readers can go to the Web to choose one of five stories. The next day, the story with the most votes shows up on the front page.

Editor Ellen Foley says she and her colleagues have been pleasantly surprised to see the results. Instead of lighter fare, for instance, readers chose the triumph of Hamas in Palestinian elections — and what that will mean for Palestinian-Israeli relations — as their top choice.

Kelly McBride, Ethics Group Leader at the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based training organization for professional journalists, says she's aware some editors may scorn the experiment. But McBride thinks it's an important step, which "allows the newsroom to hear from a wider group of people."

Foley says readers like the experiment, and because of that, it's likely her editors will continue to use help from readers in picking a front-page story.

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