How do we decide which stories to write and which ones we won’t cover? What topics deserve the full attention of a reporter or columnist? Which stories should get a prominent spot on our homepage online or the front page of the newspaper?
As we make these decisions daily, we consider many factors: What is the big news of the day and how do we move it forward with analysis and context? Is this an important story that readers need to know? Will it strike a chord or be the story everyone is talking about? Is this a story being reported everywhere or something you would only learn from the Miami Herald?
We make our decisions based on what we believe our readers want and should know. The decision-making process has traditionally been more art than science, what you might call “editor’s intuition.”
In the past decade, technology has given us more metrics to use in our decision making. We know how many people are reading a story online, what kind of reaction it is getting through comments on Facebook and how many times it has been shared on Twitter.
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But we have never been able to ask you, our readers, until now.
The Miami Herald is working with the American Press Institute, a national non-profit journalism research and education organization, to learn where we are succeeding in our coverage of the community — and where we could do better.
This month, we launched a community survey to learn both about what worries you and delights you about living in South Florida — and how you use news to navigate the spectrum. The survey is the second step in a two-part process to help us hone our local news coverage strategy.
Since January, we have been using a digital tool created by API to track our stories online. Each story we produced is labeled using one of 48 topics we cover in the Miami Herald — everything from Miami-Dade County government to the Miami Dolphins to restaurant reviews and local real estate.
In addition, the online tool also identifies the types of stories — everything from a short, breaking news story written quickly to a deep investigative series that took months to report and write. The data also shows us how much time a reader spends with a story — and how it is shared through social media.
Some of the early findings have confirmed our journalistic gut instincts. Our enterprise, watchdog and investigative stories — those unique stories uncovered by our reporters that provide context or analysis — are where readers spend the most time. Readers also appreciate the perspective of our columnists in Sports. And as South Florida’s culinary scene has grown, so too has our readers’ appetite for stories about food and dining.
We have more to learn. Our survey, accessible through the attached QR code, is open until July 25th. We hope that you will take a few minutes to share your feedback. While we will always have to rely on editor’s intuition, we’ll be using what we learn from you to continue to provide unique local coverage.
Aminda Marqués Gonzalez, executive editor, can be reached at 305-376-3429 or amarques@MiamiHerald.com. The mailing address is 3511 NW 91st Avenue, Miami, FL 33172. Follow on Twitter @MindyMarques.