Guess what your audience wants to know about? 

That's what you do every day. You guess. Or you use convoluted metrics to do a seemingly more scientific form of guessing. Stop guessing. Just ask them.

Use Hearken to turn their curiosity into the best stories you'll ever do. We're talking investigative, award-winning, Emmy-nominated, record-breaking stories.

Our partners around the world have experienced that and much more.    

Hearken is a really useful tool for cultivating great story ideas and for developing a better-informed understanding of what readers are actually interested in.
— Mike Janssen, Digital Editor, Current






This is what our partners are telling us. 

These are the qualities content creators wished all their stories had. These are the qualities Hearken stories have.  

How AND WHY does it work? 

Hearken enables media outlets to engage audiences in reporting from story genesis to completion.

Typically, the process of pitching story ideas and assigning stories to reporters happens in the closed environment of newsrooms.

Hearken invites the public into that process: your audience can fill your pitch pipeline with original story ideas in the form of questions, vote on their favorites, and provide valuable feedback when choosing stories to assign.

Hearken’s been a really powerful tool for us to really get to know our audience in a new way. And it’s really elevated what we are doing around engagement beyond just pumping our stories out on social media and watching people talk about them. It’s bringing people into the fold, into our journalistic process and really making them a part of our newsroom.
— Olivia Allen-Price, Interactive and Engagement Producer, KQED


This is not User-Generated Content; it’s not Crowdsourcing in the traditional sense. Hearken's model is Public-Powered Journalism. 

Newsrooms have long focused on two main story types:

1) Reactive stories that report what is happening in the world (e.g. that building is on fire, this person is running for office).

2) Press-initiated stories born from reporters and editors coming up with their own ideas.

Hearken provides the platform and process for a third type: Public-powered stories that individual members from the public put forward. 

Let's go deeper


Newsrooms and journalists likely feel they’re in-tune with their audiences and know what stories audiences want or need to know. But how exactly do newsrooms know that? How often do they ask their audiences directly?

Hearken helps you cultivate a fresh stream of story ideas from outside your walls via our curiosity modules.


Using our embeddable voting module, your audience can vote on their favorite story ideas, giving your newsroom and reporters valuable insights into validated audience desires, as well as the chance to challenge assumptions about what's a worthwhile story.

Bonus: participants invite their friends to vote, becoming your best marketers!


Our EMS (Engagement Management System) helps you organize, manage and assign the questions audiences are asking, and surface trends within the data. Our editorial model and training materials provide best practices for bringing audiences into reporting in meaningful ways no matter if the final product: broadcast, print or digital.



They get a rare and prized opportunity to participate in and shape the reporting they rely on from one of their favorite outlets (yours!). This transforms them from mere consumers of news to co-creators of it. This participation gives them an under-the-hood look at how journalism is made. Reporters often forget about their most amazing super power: being allowed in off-limit places and to ask questions of those with knowledge and power. Plus — when curious citizens are included in final stories, they get a well-deserved 15 minutes of fame, and the chance to show-off their civic pride and prowess to their networks (and they do).


Reporters, producers and editors get the benefit of a continuous stream of terrific, audience-relevant story pitches that make for unique content — giving life to life that wouldn't have made it into the news. Using the Hearken framework means reporters don’t rely only on assignment editors to green light or kill a story pitch: the public votes and makes a case for what stories they want reported.

Reporters also find that question-askers can become compelling, ready-made sources and characters for pieces (translation: great quotes, great “tape"). When the audience participates, reporters craft work for an individual, rather than for an abstract general audience. This makes for a more fulfilling experience during reporting and creates a unique satisfaction of getting to know and serve your audience directly. When members of the public accompany reporters in the field, they ask different questions than journalists, enriching reporting and making for new and more casual dynamics with sources (translation: less “press ready” answers, more real talk).



Outlets using our model can’t help but end up with original stories that no other outlet is doing. Hearken's approach and tech helps you create differentiating content that leaves an important impression on audiences: your newsroom cares enough to listen to what they have to say, and that they indeed do have a say in what you report.

In testing our model in a variety of markets, we’ve seen audiences generate terrific story ideas that often end up becoming the most popular content. When the public participates in creating content — whether having a question in a voting round, shaping a story in some way or being involved in actual reporting — they’re excited to let their friends and family know by sharing on social media. This makes for the best kind of marketing a news outlet could hope for: targeted, authentic and free. 

Hearken makes for deeper relationships with audiences and more interest in the content they’ve helped you create. This engagement translates to the bottom line: whether through increased ad or underwriting revenue, membership, or straight-up awareness and loyalty to your brand.

Hearken helps us create stories that are more relevant, effective and more shareable. This model helps us tell stories that ignite people and meets them where they are.
— Andi McDaniel, Senior Director of Content and News, WAMU