The main purpose of journalism is to provide information people need to make good decisions and stay informed about the world. One great way to share information is through personalized interactives.
Personalized interactives are interactive articles that give the reader perspective or help them make a decision on a given topic. Jere Hester hosted a panel about how personalized interactives can engage audiences on Saturday at the Society of Professional Journalists Convention in Las Vegas. He is the director of editorial projects and partnership for the Newmark Journalism School at the City University of New York.
Hester explained that personalized interactives require a bit of information from the user so they can get information, and in turn make decisions or get insight into their lives.
One example Hester showed, asked users to enter their hometown and birth year.
The article then pulls up data about climate change, specifically how many more days were at 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above since the person was born. The piece is aptly named How Much Hotter Is Your Hometown Than When You Were Born?
This type of personalized interactive is what Hester calls a “perspective giver.” The example above provides insight and perspective into climate change and how it affects the user.
Another type of personalized interactive is the “empathy generator.”
“The idea behind this is not necessarily helping you make decisions,” Hester said. It instead helps the reader understand the experiences of others.
An example of this is Can You Live on the Minimum Wage? This piece allows users to input information about their expenses so they can learn if they can survive on minimum wage. It generates empathy for people in that situation.
The last category of personalized interactives that Hester talked about is “decision-makers.” These are articles that help the user make a decision. An example Hester provided is an interactive called Is Amazon Prime worth it for you? Users answer questions about Amazon Prime so they can decide whether to keep using it.
While personalized interactives require a team of journalists, designers and coders, they can be important tools when considering how to engage and connect with audiences.
“I think what happens these days is that people see so much on TV and read so much that doesn’t directly relate to their lives,” Hester said. “They’re an opportunity to either connect people to news or reconnect people back to news.”