BCNI notes from "The Insight Graph: CRM for Journalists"

Drew Geraets of American Public Media led a session Saturday morning at BCNI Philly about customer relations management for journalists. In a nutshell, the tool -- called The Insight Graph -- is a way to tap the insights, knowledge and expertise of the news customers (i.e. sources, readers) to create deeper, more relevant news coverage. Their network currently has 85,000 sources among the 12 partners.

The problem The Insight Graph is trying to solve is how to quickly discover and access insights from diverse sources-- beyond the "standard rolodex." The solution takes form of what they call  the "audience insight repository" (i.e. a searchable database). The inquiry process for gathering information about sources looks like a form that feeds into a databse:

They want to give information access to the data so that it's  a two-way process-- the information doesn't get locked into a database and lost forever, but becomes usable and collaborative. The two-way aspect comes in the form of users being able to log into a separate interface where they can see a history of the forms they've filled out and follow the trial of where their data was used.

The new challenges The Insight Graph is addressing:

  • Share insights
  • Better tools for sharing
  • Sources can update profile - Through an interface called "myPin" sources can see which sources they've responded to, which of their submissions have been used on the web, and have the ability to follow individuals' responses
  • Sources determine access
  • Instantly publish insights
  • Create credibility systems - how do we know who is going to be reliable? The editors deciding?
  • Create a better UX
  • Integrate with existing sites

This is what the AIR (audience insight repository) looks like so far (prototype):

The dashboard lends itself to collaboration. Different newsrooms can access the info, leave comments on different inqueries, submit pitches, etc.

You can also drill down into the source database with multiple layers of filters, save those filters to "bins" and export them:

If this all seems too abstract, here here's the system in action on

At the bottom of some stories, there's a "Your Voice" box that gives users the option of filling out the form  ("help us cover this story").

Drew didn't immediately have numbers about how many users stay engaged after the initial signup.

One important critique from an audience member:

cherylam: Can we expect community to share personal info when many won't even identify selves in comments section? #bcniphilly

Other concerns brought up from audience members:

  • How do you keep information up-to-date after the initial inquiry is submitted?
  • How do you protect privacy?
  • How will it eventually map to data within the CMS itself? - Daniel Bachhuber
  • Will it be pluggable into other data tools? - Adam Hemphill

Eventually after AIR is fully-developed, there will be an API and it will be open source. This is good news.

If you want more info, contact, @publicinsight or @mprinsight.