Frequently asked questions about the Public Insight Network

01/18/2010 4:39 PM

10/08/2010 5:40 PM

Q. What is the Public Insight Network?

The Public Insight Network, a group of thousands of people who have agreed to help us cover the news, is the heart of our new approach to journalism. Journalists with The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and WLRN are partnering with the public to find diverse sources and a broader range of information.

Many of our public sources will tell us about their work, education, passions and expertise. Almost daily, we will ask some of these public sources in the network to share their observations and knowledge with us on specific stories. Our public insight analyst takes that information, distills it, and passes it on to our reporters and editors. An analyst may follow up with a request for more information, or perhaps an interview with a public source.

We will also ask public sources to tell us about stories that we should be covering – stories that matter to them and are not on our radar. These public insights help us set our agenda for coverage and inform our reporting. We believe this partnership creates more diverse and in-depth news and cultural coverage. It also makes The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and WLRN an even more trusted and credible source of news and information.

Q. How is this different from how your journalists have worked in the past?

Our journalists are always trying to find the best sources and the best information to tell their stories. Yet it's challenging to find sources who are beyond the usual spokespeople, officials and experts. And it's tough to survey a wide range of knowledge quickly under a deadline.

Until recently, we lacked the ability to ask many people to share what they know with us on any given story. Now, e-mail and the Internet make that possible – and we can interact with people so quickly it can even help with breaking news. Those same technologies also allow us to keep track of information in a central database and distill it into a powerful storehouse of intelligence.

Our partner, American Public Media, created specialized software to gather knowledge and insight from the public and then manage that information so it is available to help the journalists at The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and WLRN.

Q. How will you use the information people give you?

We are committed to protecting the privacy and confidentiality of our public sources. Our journalists will not quote anyone on the air, in print or online without first getting permission. Personal information shared with us is tightly restricted to a small group of public insight analysts and other journalists working directly on stories using public sources. No one else will use this information to contact our sources.

We will use the knowledge, observations and expertise people provide to inform our news and cultural reporting. Our public insight analysts maintain relationships with public sources, distill the information we receive, check it and pass the best information and sources to our reporters. From there, reporters do what they have always done – research and interview to produce balanced stories that get at the truth, and put it in context. top

Q. How do I share what I know with you?

In general, we will ask for your help by e-mail (and phone calls if you don't have e-mail.) We'll tell you about a topic we are researching. If you have expertise on the topic or relevant experience, we'll ask you to share that information in a brief survey. If you don't have knowledge, you should ignore the request or forward it to someone you think might have expertise on the topic.

We will also occasionally ask you to share your ideas for stories we should be covering. We will consider every idea that comes in, especially if you provide specific information to help us pursue the story. Of course, we can't cover every story people suggest.

You can e-mail us anytime at publicinsight@miamiherald.com with questions, ideas, criticism or suggestions.

Q. Why do you ask for information about me?

We ask for information about you so that we can better target our requests to you and focus on topics where you are likely to have experience and insight. Sometimes we will ask you for help on varied stories to explore new areas where you have expertise we don't know about.

Rest assured, we will not share this private information beyond the public insight analysts and other journalists working on stories based on your insights.

Q. What's American Public Media?

American Public Media is one of the nation's premier public radio producers, and their programs are listened to by 14.7 million people each week. American Public Media's news and information programs that are using Public Insight Network are Marketplace, Marketplace Money, Future Tense, American RadioWorks, Speaking of Faith, and Splendid Table.

Q. How is American Public Media connected with The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and WLRN?

The Public Insight Network is a service that American Public Media provides to news organizations around the country to build capacity for in-depth and insightful news and information programming and coverage. When you become part of the Public Insight Network through, you will also have the opportunity to inform American Public Media's programs, including Marketplace, Speaking of Faith, and The Story.

Q. I have more questions. Who do I ask?

If you have questions that this FAQ didn't answer, please email us at publicinsight@miamiherald.com. You can also go to our sign up page to become a public source now. Thanks for helping us strengthen our journalism by sharing what you know.

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