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If you watched the Sept. 29 presidential debate on KTTV in Los Angeles and stuck around for some instant analysis, the first people you heard from were Jeanne Harrison, Miriam Gorbatov, T.J. Chang, Ashley Wiley Johnson, and Brett Zebrowski. Not household names, perhaps (at least not yet), but part of a deceptively daring experiment in viewer engagement.
Anyone who talks about news innovation nowadays inevitably talks about “listening” — tuning into what really matters to viewers, users, or readers rather than assuming that the news professionals know best. But the unique combination of pandemic and politics this election season has prompted the Fox-owned TV Stations to go a big step further: not just listening, but giving viewers a regular and prominent role in their newscasts. “Instead of going to outside pundits and politicians, we’re actually embedding our voters, our citizens, in our coverage,” says Sharri Berg, COO of News Operations for the Fox TV Stations (and also EVP of the Fox News Channel). “And I think that this is something that will remain a permanent part of how we operate.”
The new feature is called Your Take, and the concept sounds and looks simple: assemble panels of regular viewers to comment on issues in the news. Your Take emerged from an August brainstorming session among a handful of Fox station executives from around the country — members of a “politics task force” charged by Berg with finding innovative ways to cover the campaign in this extraordinary year. “The