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Introducing myself and Chalkbeat’s effort to serve you better

Good afternoon, future Chalkbeat New York readers! (It’s got a nice ring to it, right?)

As promised, we want to continue to update you about our journey to becoming Chalkbeat. (In case you missed it, we told you why we’re changing our name to Chalkbeat, re-introduced you to our bureau chief Philissa Cramer, and also took you behind the scenes with our old and new reporters.)

Today, I want to tell you about my job. As some of you may have noticed, I was hired as a reporter at GothamSchools in April and then became Chalkbeat’s first director of engagement a couple months ago. “Engagement” is a big buzz word in journalism and other worlds these days. Our own working definition is that engagement is “the body of work that maximizes our readers’ opportunities to access, learn from, interact with, and act on our journalism.” In simpler terms, it means I want to get more people to read, share, and talk about our stories.

Reporters can write dozens of stories a day that expose problems or spur debate, but if no one sees those stories, does the reporting even matter? Bet you can guess my answer. I’ll be making sure our reporting makes it to the people who need it most. (You can read more about my engagement strategy and my background in this Q&A published by ReportHers.)

While I’ll be overseeing our engagement efforts at all four of our bureaus, I’ll be based in New York and will work closely with New York community editor Emma Sokoloff-Rubin and Colorado community editor Tiffany Montano. You’ll hear from both of them next week.

Here’s what my job means for Chalkbeat New York readers:

1. A stronger sense of community: We want Chalkbeat New York to be a place where educators, policymakers and families can come to voice their concerns, talk to one another and ultimately, act in a way that leads to better schools for everyone. One way I want to achieve that is by improving the quality of our comments section, which, according to our readers, could use some extra attention. To that end, I’m working with our bureau chiefs to try to create a more welcoming venue for productive conversation.

2. Having an advocate in the newsroom: My goal is to bring a user and reader perspective to our newsroom as often as possible. I want to make sure our stories are easy to understand and that readers feel like their voices are being heard. I also want to help our reporters understand our community of readers so that we can do a better job delivering the information you need. Ultimately, we are here to serve you.

3.  More opportunities to contribute to our reporting and interact with reporters. Some of our best stories come from our tips e-mail address, and we often read valuable insights in our comments section and on Twitter. After all, journalism is a two-way street. To tell the story of New York City schools, we need the people who make up those schools to help us tell it. To that end, I’ll be advising each bureau on how best to build relationships with readers, and I’ll also be devising ways for readers to contribute to our stories. We took a first step in that direction with our School Snapshot project, in which we asked you all to submit photos of something that makes your school special or unique and tell us about it.

We’re extending the deadline until the end of this month and if you haven’t submitted one yet, you can check out the photos from each of our bureaus below for some inspiration! And if you have any questions about my job or suggestions about what my job should be, e-mail me at aanand@chalkbeat.org or Tweet me at @anikaanand00.