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Joy MayerNews organizations need to be in the hands of journalists who are willing to actively listen to and hear feedback, says Joy Mayer, director of community outreach at the Columbia Missourian newspaper. But first, feedback begins with being open to change.

“Are you interested in improvement?” asks Mayer. “That’s where engagement begins. Improvement leads to better relationships, whether you’re talking about personal relationships or a relationship between a business and its customers.”

Mayer, a 2010-2011 Donald W. Reynolds Fellow, recently spoke during a TEDx CoMo event in Columbia. TED, which stands for “Technology, Entertainment and Design,” is a global set of conferences owned by the private nonprofit Sapling Foundation, formed to disseminate "ideas worth spreading." Mayer was one of 18 speakers.

She shared insights about how she handles feedback in the news business.

“When I think about feedback, I think about approaching life as a conversation, a conversation that involves listening, as well as talking,” said Mayer. “I’m thinking of listening to the words of course but also the actions. Are we open to hearing the reactions we receive and are we willing to adapt?” 

Feedback tips:

  • Find value in all feedback, even criticism.
  • Watch for clues. Be willing to be vulnerable.
  • Be adaptable.
  • Friction happens.
  • It can seem like a roadblock or speedbump. “Speed bumps are a natural part of life to be navigated, rather than having them shut you down,” says Mayer.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask readers/viewers, “How is our news organization doing?”
  • People will provide feedback whether or you ask for it or not. Take this feedback and let it be part of the decision-making process.
  • Respond to readers’ questions, comments and inquiries.
  • Mayer responds to readers, “If you see something you think is news, I hope you’ll get in touch.” Don’t just say it, mean it! Follow through!
  • Feedback may seem inconvenient, irrelevant or disagreeable. Convey a message to readers/viewers of “You matter. Your priorities matter. Your questions matter. Your needs matter.”

Jennifer Nelson  
   
Senior Information Specialist



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