Thanks for saying hi, sydette.
I don’t know that the format is what’s most critical — comments, message board, social media, debates, live events? I don’t know what the exact right mix is for Ann Arbor, or if there’s something I’ve never seen or considered. What I want, though, is a culture and a process whereby journalists take what readers have to contribute seriously and work them like sources. I want readers to feel they’re part of the team — or at least that they could be if they wanted to add something helpful, that they wouldn’t just be ignored or belittled. I recognize that 99 percent of what populates comments, message boards, chats, etc. is chaff, and that trolls and axe-grinders make it toxic. Tools that encourage readers to participate honestly, help reporters and editors winnow the wheat from the chaff and keep the biohazard level to a minimum would be greatly appreciated.
I could go on and on, but does this at all answer your question?