Like everyone else, the pandemic forced STLPR to find new ways to connect our audience to the rapidly changing information that informs their important daily decisions. We found early success with a live blog; our audience especially connected to its conversational tone and responded generously with stories that shaped our reporting and bolstered our spirits.
Before the pandemic, we had been livestreaming station events on Facebook for people who couldn’t attend in person. When in-person events became impossible, we launched a brand-new Twitch channel and started hosting nightly conversations between the newsroom and audience. As reporters shared the day’s news, the livestream audience responded with questions and comments that fueled both the conversation and future stories. There is no clock or script to follow, giving discussions a spontaneous and intimate feel. Unlike a radio newscast or even a call-in talk show, the livestream created a virtual space for audience members to authentically connect with each other in real time — a valuable experience to many who are quarantined and isolated. Together, we began to build a place for our community to process the massive change we’re all experiencing.
We’ve barely scratched the surface of what we can do on Twitch. In May 2020, we added weekly live concerts to the lineup (called “STLPR House Show”), drawing people who love local music but could no longer gather at local venues. We’re also hosting special events, such as mini-journalism school lectures and film screenings, that help us build community through journalism and art. Future plans include livestreamed newscasts, round-table community conversations, chess tournaments (St. Louis is a big chess city), content collaborations with other media outlets, movie nights and even karaoke.