- Kirsten Ballard
Bay Area News Group’s journalists are teaming up with neighborhood social networking site Nextdoor to deliver local news in a new way while engaging communities in valuable conversations. The three regional daily news organizations — The Mercury News, East Bay Times and Marin Independent Journal — are collaborating with Nextdoor to distribute and discuss stories that are relevant to neighbors in specific communities.
The stories being shared through Nextdoor range from urgent breaking news to weekend events and activities to updates on local businesses, organizations and government. They are rounded up into a daily email digest.
Executive Editor Neil Chase says he wishes the tool was built by newspaper community because it’s such a great idea. “It’s local communication among neighbors. We saw it taking off and knew we ought to be a part of it.”
Nextdoor is only open to people with a physical address in the neighborhood. Chase said that Bay Area News Group is not given full access, but posts stories as often as once a day, where they appear in the feed as posts from the local newspaper. Each post includes a headline, short summary and a photo. There is a link back to the newspaper site for the full story. “We’re getting our content onto the doorsteps of people who don’t get the paper,” he said. He went onto elaborate that the Bay Area News Group is working to find a balance between getting news into the hands of people who need it and making sure the business is sustainable.
Members of Nextdoor are predominantly homeowners that are involved in their community. They are interested in creating a neighborhood conversation, be it about safety or sharing resources. “We find them more engaged with the local community and more engaged with local news,” Chase said.
Editors throughout the Bay Area are sharing stories through Nextdoor and encouraging neighbors to share their reactions, then using what they learn to better tailor future coverage to the communities’ interests and needs. There is a culture of “thanking” people for posting on Nextdoor, similar to Likes on Facebook. Chase said a lot of the articles they share get “thanks” from viewers. They post events, features and restaurant openings, with restaurant opening articles doing particularly well on the platform.
Sometimes readers follow up and that gives the reporter a new angle to follow. It is a channel to communicate about the story, though sometimes there are comments about the role of media in society and questions about newspaper deliveries.
Chase explained that it adds to the papers’ distribution by getting relevant local stories in front of people, making it more likely to get comments back than say, an international article. International and national news are not in the spirit of Nextdoor.
Facebook is for friends and family, LinkedIn is for business and Nextdoor is for where you live.
“We have to take our news to our communities,” he said. “We can’t expect them to come to us.”