Executive Editor, Chalkbeat
Bene Cipolla serves as Executive Editor of Chalkbeat. As a reporter, her work appeared in such publications as The New York Times, Washington Post and Sports Illustrated. She has worked as an editor at magazines such as Cosmopolitan.
In the past year, we’ve ... been experimenting with a text messaging platform called GroundSource. That’s just been a different way, again, to reach people through text messaging, versus the website or newsletters or social media.
One of the first instances that we used it was in Detroit last fall,” Cipolla said. “We were doing a package of stories around student mobility, so students who changed schools frequently throughout their academic career. We actually purchased (lists of) phone numbers, which I know sounds super shady and like a gross marketing ploy, but we bought phone numbers and we were able to get responses from 100 parents about why their children changed schools, and that was actually a really effective boost to our reporting. It was certainly people we never would have found otherwise. We experimented with that number purchasing there, but we decided that's probably not a path we're going to continue down.
We use it at events as well so people can communicate with us via text, asking questions and participating. Then we’ve also used it to do outreach on other stories. We did a discipline package in Tennessee, and people could text in and do a little survey so we could again gather more information. I think we’ll probably start to use it more across bureaus in our coming fiscal year.