Starting with PIN - The work flow

Michael Caputo -

Now let's get practical and talk about the PIN work flow.

Overview of the Flow

You can boil down using the network to four steps: 1) Search for sources you want to question, 2) Write up the questions, 3) Send the questions to those sources and 4) Read the responses and learn. At that point you’ll decide whether you want to contact sources for interviews, fashion a story pitch, produce a story or segment or even send a new query.

Searching for the sources

You’ll search for sources in the database, AIR. You’ll plug in search terms to find those who can offer insight on a topic. If – for example – the issue is funding for special education … you’ll seek out teachers in your region and plug in “special education” as an search term or identifier.

Your search results will give you a source’s demographic and contact information and you’ll see a blurb that shows the connection between that source and your search. This could highlight a profile entry or a passage from a previous response. In our example, you'll see “special education teacher” highlighted. You’ll collect those sources in a bin and get them ready to field your questions – as we discussed in section two of the tutorials on searching.

Writing the questions for the sources

Now you begin to write questions for these sources – and you’ll start by heading to the "plus-sign" button" and clicking on "create query". You’ll ask questions to elicit insights. Remember, you’ve found people who should have experience in the topic. So you’ll ask them to draw on that knowledge. We’ll get into crafting those questions in this tutorial.

Sending out the questions to sources

The work flow now moves to sending sources the query. You’ll use the email tool in AIR to do this. The email should convince sources of your journalistic aim and why they're being asked to help. The email will carry the question form link to them. We’ll talk about query distribution in this tutorial.

Of course, email is not the only means of getting people to respond to the question form. You can also use social media. This would likely reach people who are not in the PIN, and it’s a great way to build the network. And, of course, you will use your main megaphone … your news pages or your airwaves - to point people to your query. The substance of your pitch won’t change, however. You’ll explain what your newsroom is up to and that you seek people with experience and knowledge about the issue.

Reading and learning from responses

The final part of the work flow is reading over what you get back and learning from the insights. You’ll return to AIR, which collects responses and attaches them to source profiles. AIR’s submission reader will give you a number of ways to categorize and tag responses in quick fashion. You’ll also be able to take notes. And it’s here where you find those folks that can inform your reporting, your programming, your projects. People who are telling you what they know and how they know what they know.

That leads you to wherever the information takes you. Interview sources who responded or use material to interview those in power. Draft a story pitch or pre-interview sources for a talk program. Maybe you'll go back and send out a follow up query form.

But always think about sharing these responses - using the Insight Pages response section. Embed it into your news pages or link to the Insight Page.

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