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How to experiment with local TV news: It’s really about choosing your own adventure

September 24, 2019
By NiemanLab 
Choose Your Own Adventure books were a big hit. But what about choose your news?
This isn’t quite personalizing algorithms on a news site’s homepage or platforms surfacing different items in your feed. One local TV station let its followers decide the stories shown on its evening newscast. It used GroundSource to collect story ideas over SMS from viewers two weeks in advance and polling Twitter followers hours before the show began over which topics they wanted to watch. (“An experimental community” beat “oil on Native lands” and “emissions and ride-sharing,” this time.) The unchosen content still was available online for viewers to see.
Netflix has done a similar experiment — and was sued by the Choose Your Own Adventure series publisher — with interactive content, allowing viewers to pick the next step in the show, and plans to do much more. For Cronkite News on Arizona PBS, this was one night of several experiments.