Letter to the Editor: Hearken’s audience engagement model

May 3, 2018

On April 30, 2018 CJR published a piece by Jacob Nelson entitled “The audience engagement industry struggles with measuring success.” This article is based on outdated research from early 2017 and did not give that context to the reader. Neither the author of the piece, nor CJR staff, contacted Hearken for comment on this article before publishing. We’d have been happy to share the considerable evidence of measurable success that we have gathered since Nelson’s research concluded.

While I fully appreciate (and so does Nelson) that academic research takes a long time to produce, your site states: “CJR’s mission is to be the intellectual leader in the rapidly changing world of journalism” (emphasis added). Since Nelson concluded his research in 2017, I think we can agree the world of journalism has seen a few significant rapid changes, including turning increasingly toward direct support from news consumers for sustainability (which data shows Hearken can help).

We at Hearken will continue to welcome researchers who wish to learn more about the potential of our public-powered journalism model. We exist to experiment, learn and push the industry toward healthier footing, and we’re not afraid of finding out if what we’re doing isn’t working. It’s just that we do have proof that it is working, and your article stated otherwise.  Regardless of which engagement efforts or services newsrooms employ, they deserve to know that it is an avenue worth exploring to solve for their very real and very pressing needs.


Jennifer Brandel
CEO and Co-founder, Hearken

Editor’s note: CJR and the Tow Center for Digital Journalism stand by Nelson’s story.

Jennifer Brandel is CEO and co-founder of Hearken.