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Spend too long in the comment section of almost any online article and you could be forgiven for believing that courting feedback from the public is a fruitless, demoralising experience.

But seeking out genuine opinions from audiences beyond the trolls and spambots can help newsrooms ensure that their coverage is in touch with what their community wants from them, as long as both parties are approaching the conversation in good faith.

In an article on how to engage in more productive feedback-gathering activities, Joy Mayer of Trusting News discusses what kinds of questions you may want your audience to answer, who to ask, and how to find time in a busy schedule to listen to the community.

Trusting News has undertaken two such feedback exercises previously, with largely positive results being reported from both participants and journalists.

"[The conversations] weren't about defending or marketing the news," Mayer says. "They were just about listening."

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