Grady Newsource Introduces New Tool to Measure Impact

A widget has begun to pop up on several of Grady Newsource’s articles, raising questions.

Three students at the University of Georgia, Sarah Fredrickson, Allison Mawn and Jesse Wood, have made it into the final 10 for the 2024 Reynolds Journalism Institute Student Innovation Competition representing UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The prompt for this year’s competition was for participants to develop a way for newsrooms to gauge audience engagement not through traditional metrics, such as clicks, views or visits, but by measuring journalism’s real-life impact on the community.

Mawn, Fredrickson and Wood collaborated with Amanda Bright, senior academic professional and director of the Cox Institute’s Journalism Innovation Lab, for approximately three weeks to develop an in-site widget on the side of the screen. Users would be prompted to answer two to three questions about the article, asking questions about topics such as timeliness or helpfulness of the article.

The replies would be a way for journalists to establish what the audience deems to be a successful and useful article looks like for them, allowing newsrooms to adapt their news coverage to meet the needs of the community further.

The design was kept simple, yet eye-catching to attract the attention of the reader without interrupting their interaction with the article itself. The team set a goal of a 3% response rate out of the total number of readers on the site.

The team submitted the idea for their widget on Oct. 16, 2023 and received word that they had made it to the top 10 finalists shortly thereafter. Phase two then began: implementing the widget on Grady Newsource’s website.

The widget was implemented on Grady Newsource’s website on Nov. 26, 2023, and by Feb. 29, 2024, has garnered a .2% response rate from its audience. 

The team is in the running for the $10,000 grand prize. The final presentation will be held on March 7.


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