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The Day awarded grant to enhance reader engagement

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New London — The Day is among 18 news organizations chosen to share more than $100,000 in grants aimed at helping U.S. newsrooms engage with their readers, the Community Listening and Engagement Fund announced Tuesday.

The grants will enable The Day to team with Hearken, a service that helps journalists communicate with the public as news content is being developed. Hearken provides expert consulting, training and access to an online platform.

“Our goal is to connect with the community to increase engagement and create local content that readers want to engage in, consume and share,” said Pat Richardson, president and publisher of The Day.

CLEF considered nearly 60 applicants, awarding grants to The Day and nine other local outlets, one statewide news organization, one national publisher, two topic-based publishers, three student newspapers and the University of Miami. In an initial round of grants in April, CLEF awarded subsidies to 34 organizations.

Grant recipients have shown "a commitment to diversity in hiring and staffing their operations," CLEF said in a release.

“Hearken is a way to involve readers during the reporting process,” said Carlos Virgen, The Day’s digital news director. “Right now, most of our engagement with readers takes place after the fact — in online comments and letters to the editor. The Hearken platform was developed to change that dynamic.”

Virgen said Hearken will enable The Day to develop questions for readers, analyze their responses and poll them, all via

The effort will be employed during coverage of the upcoming elections.

The Day also has been accepted into the Poynter Institute’s Local News Innovation Program, which helps news organizations increase digital subscriptions, and has signed a contract with the American Press Institute, which has developed Metrics for News, a software program that helps publishers track their audience’s preferences.

“The Local News Innovation Program with the Poynter Institute will help us with tools, mentoring and a peer network to learn from,” Richardson said. “The new tools from API and Hearken — a public-powered journalism platform and consulting service — will help us engage and listen to the public as a story develops from pitch to publication."

“When you combine our print readership with our digital platforms, more people than ever are reading The Day. We want to continue to grow — these new resources will enable those efforts,” she said.

Tim Dwyer, The Day's executive editor; Izaskun Larrañeta, the deputy managing editor; Richardson and Virgen will travel to St. Petersburg, Fla., next month to attend a Poynter conference as part of the news innovation program.

CLEF is funded by a consortium of journalism and democracy-oriented foundations, including The News Integrity Initiative, Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.


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