Msnbc.com has launched Gut Check America (http://gutcheck.msnbc.com/) an interactive feature where consumers drive the conversation about what really matters in America. The project revolves around readers, giving them a forum to discuss the topics most important to them, how these issues affect their daily lives, and offer potential solutions. Issues range from neighborhood to national topics. The readers’ votes will help determine the topics and story lines for msnbc.com reporters’ each month. And consumers can continue to discuss the issues with other readers on the Gut Check America message board.
“The project was born out of a desire to hear directly from those affected by the issues, as opposed to the pundits and politicians who usually drive the media conversation,” said Mike Brunker, MSNBC.com Projects Editor. “The stories and concerns that we share will be those of everyday Americans, and ones that we expect will present a sharp contrast to the campaign rhetoric we’ll be hearing as the presidential race heats up.”
The response to Gut Check America, which launched this month, has been overwhelming. More than 6,000 readers submitted issues and described how they affect them, their family or their neighbors. More than 64,000 participated in the first vote, which revealed illegal immigration as the top issue on the minds of Americans. And readers have been actively sharing their personal stories and points of view on the Gut Check message board, which had nearly 5,500 posts in its first 25 days.
A team of msnbc.com reporters used a story submitted by a reader in Tulsa, Okla., as a starting point for a report on how illegal immigration is affecting that city, and they will be reporting their findings in early July. The first special Gut Check America also will include essays from other readers describing how illegal immigration is reflected in their communities. A panel of experts will answer questions about the subject submitted by readers.
This cycle will be repeated each month, with msnbc.com editors compiling the leading topics readers identify, and putting the five finalists to a vote. During the first week in July, readers will get another chance to select the issue most important to them. The winner of that runoff will determine the topic msnbc.com reporters cover the following month.