What We Learned from E-Waste

E-Waste: Earth Day recycling event

Workers and volunteers carry and stack used computers during an Earth Day event. The computers and other electronics were collected by Denver-area recycler TechnoRescue. (LAURA FRANK/I-NEWS)

One of the things we wanted to learn here at I-News during our startup phase is how our media partners want to use our content. Our investigation of what happens in Colorado to e-waste – all those used computers, cell phones, TVs and other electronics – offered some interesting insights.

After a six-month investigation, we produced a four-part series. Each day covered a different aspect of what we found. Each day also had an accompanying video, plus photos and graphics.

Almost every I-News Network partner used the content in a different way.

Here are some examples:

The Boulder Daily Camera took our four-part series and published it the Sunday through Wednesday before Thanksgiving. And they did quite a bit of additional reporting to localize the story even more than we already had done for them. They produced several sidebars, including a look at the University of Colorado’s efforts to reduce e-waste, and a look at a local recycler.

The Denver Post wanted all four parts condensed into one hard-hitting story. They published it on their front page on Black Friday, as many consumers headed out to buy replacements for their old electronics.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan used the four-part series and started publishing on Black Friday. That meant the most localized Fort Collins reporting I-News had done for them wound up in their Sunday editions, their largest circulation day.

The Greeley Tribune is publishing the four-part series on four consecutive Sundays.

The Colorado Springs Gazette began publishing the four-part series on the Sunday after Black Friday.

Rocky Mountain PBS wanted three of the daily videos consolidated into one longer piece for its Colorado State of Mind public affairs show. They also posted each story of the four-day series on their RMPBS Reports section of the website and distributed references to it in their electronic newsletter.

All the other partners also published the stories on their websites, generating quite a bit of social media: During Thanksgiving week, there were more than 220 Tweets that referenced the stories. The story also was picked up by The Huffington Post, The Times of India, USA Today’s Colorado webpage and, according to Google, several thousand other websites.

So we learned a lot from our e-waste project: News outlets want customized content. The presentation preferences are vastly different for each partner. They all care deeply about timely, in-depth news for their audiences. And their audiences respond.

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