Developing an engaging voice remains one of the most underappreciated changes required for successful local digital transformation. You can launch new podcasts, newsletters or videos. You can increase daily story output. The efforts won’t amount to much if the voice that runs through those doesn’t shift from the institutional to the human.
There are many reasons why many newsrooms have been tentative in this regard. Some believe more voice means less objectivity and fairness. Others say they lack the time to properly develop voice in the face of crushing daily workloads. Some may not possess the right talent. And many that have that talent fear managers won’t provide cover when — as is inevitable — transitioning to a more active voice leads to a few experimental missteps.
But the shifting of local journalism’s revenue burden from advertisers to consumers can’t be successful if we don’t get better at talking to our paying human beings like, well, human beings.