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Introducing myself and Chalkbeat’s effort to serve you better

Good morning, future Chalkbeat Colorado 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 Maura Walz and also took you behind the scenes with our old and new reporters.)

Today, I want to tell you briefly about my job as “director of engagement.” I was hired as a reporter at GothamSchools in New York in April and then became Chalkbeat’s first “director of engagement” a couple months ago. We define engagement as “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 Colorado community editor Tiffany Montano and New York community editor Emma Sokoloff-Rubin – you’ll hear from both of them next week.

Here’s what my job means for Chalkbeat Colorado readers:

1. A stronger sense of community. We want Chalkbeat Colorado 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 our comments section. So I’ve worked with our bureau chiefs to write a new comments policy that will be shared with you and enforced regularly once our new site launches. We hope that our renewed focus on our comments section will create a more welcoming venue for reader comments that lead to 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. My job is to remind our reporters and editors every day that 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. 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 the content on our website.

One example is 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.

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