Nina Gregory has worked at NPR since 2006. She will be the first head of news for Clubhouse.


But her fascination was not just for private causes. As a senior engagement editor at USA Today who focuses on range and inclusion, Wellington Radel noticed the potential for her colleagues to host conversations on Clubhouse. The app, which was invite-only when it launched final yr however opened to all in July, permits any iOS or Android person to run an audio-only room. Participants are solely seen by their profile pictures and names and might request to talk or just pay attention.
USA Today has been one of many newsrooms which have experimented with Clubhouse over the previous yr. The query now could be whether or not the startup can preserve engagement up as extra staff return to workplaces and different in-person actions resume. And even when audiences are nonetheless taken with listening to and taking part in dwell audio rooms, Clubhouse now competes with different copycat merchandise on Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR), Spotify (SPOT) and Reddit — to a title a few.

One means Clubhouse is attempting to take care of and develop newsrooms’ curiosity is thru a new rent. Nina Gregory, senior editor for NPR’s Arts Desk who labored for the nonprofit media group since 2006, is becoming a member of Clubhouse as its first head of news and media publishers. Similar partnerships roles are frequent inside different social apps and newsrooms.

“This is the first job I applied for in 15 years outside of public radio. I never thought I would leave,” Gregory instructed NCS Business. “But [Clubhouse] aligns so much with not just our mission, but the audio nerd in me and in us.”

Why dwell audio

Gregory joined Clubhouse precisely one yr previous to Wednesday’s announcement of her hiring. She stated she was instantly reminded of NPR’s former call-in present “Talk of the Nation” that coated present occasions. She stated Clubhouse is extra like “Talk of All the Nations” because of the app’s world attain and participation.

Nina Gregory has worked at NPR since 2006. She will be the first head of news for Clubhouse.Nina Gregory has worked at NPR since 2006. She will be the first head of news for Clubhouse.

“As an audio journalist, [Clubhouse] aligned with what I’ve always believed is the best medium for news. You don’t need to know how to read to be able to hear radio news. You don’t need to have an expensive subscription. You don’t need cable,” Gregory stated. “The accessibility across not just geography, but socioeconomics and cultures has always driven me to the power of the medium.”

USA Today’s Wellington Radel stated she additionally was drawn to Clubhouse for its potential to succeed in totally different audiences.

“We see a lot of people of color using these social media platforms as their primary news source and so I want to be right there and say, ‘Are we having the conversations? Can they see our content?'” Wellington Radel stated.

In February, USA Today held its first official Clubhouse room with two of its reporters and two medical doctors talking about Covid-19 and its impacts on communities of colour — a subject that USA Today coated in a six-part investigation printed final yr.

Matt Adams, viewers strategist at NPR, stated he grew to become taken with Clubhouse and the dwell audio format extra broadly as a means to make use of social media past simply sharing a hyperlink and a few associated textual content.

“I’m up for experimenting in many different ways that just meets our audience somewhere where we’re not just shoving a link in their face and telling them to read a story,” Adams stated. “It’s like, ‘Okay, let’s have a conversation about this. What are we missing?'”

NPR has experimented with Clubhouse, but it surely makes use of Twitter’s dwell audio characteristic, Spaces, extra continuously now. Last month, NPR hosted a conversation about Hurricane Ida with reporters at New Orleans Public Radio. Adams stated one profit he has seen is NPR journalists producing story concepts and assembly new sources by way of the platform.
The nineteenth*, a nonprofit newsroom protecting the intersection of gender, politics and coverage, held its first Twitter Spaces dialog earlier this month. Niketa Patel, who just lately joined the newsroom as senior director of partnerships and had beforehand labored in news partnerships at Twitter, hosted a conversation about Texas’ abortion regulation.

“Even though we have a small newsroom, we firmly believe that we want to meet our audience and engage with them where they are, where they’re most active,” Patel stated.

“The barrier to entry is really quite low,” Patel continued. “It’s about establishing what topic you might want to have a conversation about, who the participants are and when it’s going to take place. No one needs to worry about hair and makeup. No one needs to be in a physical studio or anything like that.”

Clubhouse vs Twitter Spaces vs IRL

Clubhouse beat Twitter to market with dwell audio, however its longevity remains to be to be decided. Clubhouse may go the best way of Meerkat, a startup that was equally first to market with a dwell video app. Meerkat was usurped by Periscope — a streaming video app that was acquired by Twitter after which built-in into the principle product — and Facebook Live.

Adams of NPR stated one purpose he gravitated to Spaces over Clubhouse is as a result of they have already got invested time and assets constructing an viewers on Twitter.

Wellington Radel stated USA Today has additionally poured extra assets into Spaces just lately, however has not “ruled out Clubhouse.”

“We want to include sources as best we can, and if they’re already familiar with Twitter, it makes it easier for them to join us,” Wellington Radel stated. “They really add to the conversation.”

Now anyone can join Clubhouse, the pandemic's hottest new social media appNow anyone can join Clubhouse, the pandemic's hottest new social media app

Eric Zuckerman, who leads US news partnerships at Twitter, stated he comes throughout a number of Twitter Spaces about news occasions daily and listens to many of them. “I get frustrated when I have a meeting and can’t listen to one of these Spaces,” he stated.

Twitter permits hosts to file their Spaces. NPR has chosen to file and repurpose some. For instance, NPR recorded a Q&A it hosted on Twitter Spaces with Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy about Covid-19 vaccine boosters, and one other conversation with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

Zuckerman stated the product roadmap contains permitting listeners to replay Twitter Spaces at a later time after the dwell occasion is over. Twitter is also introducing the flexibility for hosts to create ticketed occasions in Spaces the place Twitter customers should pay for entry.

But will there be many Twitter Spaces or Clubhouse rooms when extra individuals return to the workplace or different locations exterior their very own properties?

“I think live audio has legs beyond the pandemic,” Patel stated. “To me, live audio conjures up this sense of timely authenticity, where actual voices take center stage… In my opinion, live audio is the next iteration of live journalism.”

Having taken the job at Clubhouse, Gregory stated she is “bullish” on the longer term of the app whether or not that’s competing with Twitter Spaces or with in-person actions.

“For working journalists, I understand they have too many platforms to file for,” Gregory stated. “But I think that there are opportunities [on Clubhouse] for audience engagement that are essential to newsrooms for repairing the trust between news consumers and newsrooms when we have mis- and disinformation, news deserts, a lack of diversity in newsrooms.”

Gregory stated one of her targets within the new position is to encourage NPR’s member stations to make use of Clubhouse extra. She additionally needs to coach journalism college students on the right way to use the app — even perhaps attempt their very own model of NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

“I think there are new habits and new relationships that will endure,” Gregory stated. “As people discover it, I do think that that sense of community will draw people in.”

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