Coral by Vox Media Guides
[IMAGE] A crowd at a music concert viewed from behind. A pair of hands make the shape of a heart above the heads of the crowd.

Why Community Work Is Important

  • Better journalism
  • More revenue opportunities
  • More diverse voices
  • Increased trust
  • Happy newsroom


Community work can improve your journalism

By harnessing the knowledge and expertise of your community, you can improve your stories, deepen your coverage, and find sources that nobody else can.

De Correspondent reached out to readers to find out about the energy company Shell – and received a box of secret internal documents that contradicted their public line on climate change.

The Atlantic found the person who later became their Politics Editor in the comments of one of their blogs.

The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold won a Pulitzer for his political scoops, many of which were crowdsourced from his readers.

Our Case Studies section is filled with more examples of how communities around journalism can change the shape of your work.

Strong communities mean better journalism.


Community work can improve your profitability

Your most engaged community members are almost certainly also the most loyal members of your audience. They visit more stories, stay on the page longer, and come back more often, than everyone else.

The Financial Times found that its commenters are seven times more engaged – and comment readers six times more engaged – than all their other readers.

The Times of London declared in 2017 that their on-site commenters are their most valuable readers.

A study commissioned by Bitch Media found that 7.17% of newsletter subscribers who engaged on their website then paid to become members, compared to the average newsletter-to-member rate of just 1.35%.

Editor and Publisher found that millennials are willing to pay for news – as long as the news is actively engaging them.

A five-year academic study published by the MIT-Sloan Management review found that “as users become increasingly engaged with a website, they become more willing to pay for its services… [but] the website must take an active approach to engage and interact with its users.”

And don’t forget: if you surrender your community to social media, you won’t own the information to identify, and potentially sell to, your most loyal users.

Engaged communities on your site mean more revenue opportunities.


Community work can increase the diversity of voices in your coverage

Your work has more impact when you amplify voices that aren’t often heard. Through your communities, you can welcome a more diverse range of ideas and experiences, identify new talent, and enhance your credibility among different groups.

“If readers don’t see themselves and hear their voices in your pages, they will no longer view you as a credible source of information.” – The Society of Professional Journalists

Welcoming communities mean more diverse voices.


Community work can increase trust in journalism

Trust is not an item that you can sell to readers once. Trust depends on building an ongoing relationship between your audience and your journalism.

“Being trustworthy doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you will be trusted… Media organization strategies to recruit audiences need to go beyond marketing to understanding different audiences better and working harder to define their ‘offer’ and strengthen their relationships.” – Prof Charlie Beckett, London School of Economics

“If you are building trust right, you are in effect building a home for your community, a place where they want to gather, connect and engage.” – Josh Stearns, First Draft News Coalition

Effective communities mean more trust in your journalism.


Community work can increase journalists’ sense of meaning in their work

According to a survey of more than 100 journalists conducted by the Reynolds Journalism Institute, “journalists are more satisfied and find their work more meaningful and significant when they practiced audience engagement.”

Strong engagement means being closer to the real impact of your reporting.


Community work can be complicated, surprising, and immensely rewarding both for you and the organizations where you work. Let’s get started.

How can we make these guides better? Let us know
Subscribe to our newsletter for updates