Aasaf Ainapore Aasaf Ainapore

Client: FT

Project: The Listening Project

Journalists at Dusseldorf newspaper Rheinische Post use an innovative suite of tools to identify breaking stories by closely monitoring online chatter

When Michael Bröcker became editor of German regional newspaper Rheinische Post in 2014, he took on a mission: to bridge a widening gap that he saw between traditional journalism and the issues that ordinary people were discussing daily on social media. "There's a movement out there where people share information, thoughts, creativity and the journalism world is not immediately part of it," he says. "We need to understand the social web to make our journalism better and more relevant."

Rheinische Post's answer was to use technology to create a suite of tools, which it called the "Listening Centre", to monitor 400m data sources ranging from social media, news sites, online discussion boards and a host of other platforms where members of the public air their views and grievances.

"We discovered we were quicker on stories," says Fiene of the innovation. "And we were better informed about what is going on in our region. To stay relevant as a journalist, you have to know what people care about."