Phase 1: Discover interests
Asking the readers
The start of the HCS process is a general and complex topic (e.g., climate change) where many different stories could be told. Here the newsroom uses an open text form in an article and asks the readers to submit their questions about the topic.
Editorial expertise & data
With editorial expertise and data, the newsroom can expand on the proposals of the users and find additional exciting topic areas that might perform strongly. Data also erases the social desirability bias.
Phase 2: Define interests
Editorial expertise & data
These two factors are also crucial to grasp the potential of the submitted question. Maybe the question was already answered before, and the newsroom can recycle the story.
Some questions might circle the same topic area. They have to be clustered and, if possible, combined.
Deciding on questions
The newsroom has to determine which questions should be passed on to the next stage of de HCS process. These decisions are informed by the number of questions about the topic area, news values, existing data, and available resources.
The newsroom writes pitches for the questions that outline the desired outcome.
The users get to vote, which question the newsroom should tackle. A simple poll tool can be used here. The community allocates the newsroom’s resources.
Phase 3: Develop the story
Primary and secondary research
After the users have decided which question the newsroom should answer, primary and secondary research begins simultaneously. In secondary research, the reporters are looking through formerly published articles and other existing sources. In the primary research, the reporters talk to sources, producing new information. Some of the users that submitted the final question may have information too that can be used.
The newsroom has to ideate how to tell the story and which information of the primary and secondary research to use. Also, different types of storytelling (e.g., report, interview) can be discussed.
Furthermore, the newsroom has to develop different ideas on the format. Should the story be told with text, video, infographics, or a combination?
Phase 4: Deliver the story
Storytelling and production decisions
Then, the newsroom has to decide how to deliver the story by choosing the best options from the storytelling and format ideation.
Then the story gets published and is now accessible for the users.
Traditionally, a journalistic piece is a finished product. In digital publishing, the newsroom can measure if the story answers the readers’ question by looking at analytics data like time spent or scroll depth. The article can then be adapted and re-published. A/B-testing helps the newsroom to get the full potential out of the story. User feedback via comments or emails may contribute to the insights.