Starting tonight, viewers of the CBS "Evening News" and readers of CBSNews.com will be offered a chance to weigh on some stories they would like to see. Correspondent Steve Hartman will present "three feature stories that under consideration for the next week's broadcast" (you can read more about the "Assignment America" feature here).
Viewers can then visit the Web site and register their vote – or add a story idea of their own. This feature runs on Friday nights, starting tonight. The first winning story will air next Friday. As explained in the Web story, "you can still count on CBS News to bring you all the day's major stories told by the best reporters in the business. This segment is just a way for us to make sure we're giving you a say — and a newscast you want to see."
More and more, news organizations are seeking ways to include their audience in the process, and Pubic Eye in many ways is a part of that trend. While something like "Assignment America" can make viewers feel like they have a voice, it's important to point out that the network is not relying on viewers to create an entire show lineup. It is unlikely news organizations will give up their editorial judgment anytime soon. Still, you shouldn't dismiss such attempts as gimmicks, you should see them as a start. As BuzzMachine's Jeff Jarvis wrote about the Wisconsin State Journal's feature:
That's a nice start, good symbolism. The real win will be when papers get their publics to vote on what stories they're not covering that they should be.