Friday Dr. Robert Forto posted a blog that shared his thoughts, insight and personal story in reaction to watching a story that aired that night. We invited him to come to the station the day before the story was on the news. We asked him take the story to his social networks, website, and/or blog in any way he felt appropriate. We did not ask for any editorial control in any way he chose to share his reaction and opinion on the story.

Robert's blog: Forget Me (Not) Canine Dementia and CBS4 Denver

Pet Dementia Becoming More Common Among Dogs by Suzanne McCarroll

Robert watched the story with the photojournalist that shot and edited it. We encouraged him to ask the photojournalist any question about the story he'd like. If he rather talk to Suzanne, she was on standby to take a phone call from him. (In a perfect world she would have been here at the time, but was unexpectedly doing her job of covering a news story!) He met Kristine Strain, Assistant News Director, who offered to answer any questions he had about the story or why we'd asked him to collaborate with us.

Our goal was that whatever he did would help generate conversation about the upcoming story. Our immediate hope was for this conversation lead to some people turning on the news to watch the story. Will we know if this was the result? No. There are no metrics to measure that. Our long-term hope is this collaboration would be the first of many collaborations that would connect us and our brand to new audiences.

Beyond the numbers, I feel strongly that we in the newsroom cannot, and should not, be the main resource for some of the stories we report. This story lends itself to outside experts. Robert is a resource to whom I can refer viewer questions.

I think it's safe to say that Robert was as excited about this collaboration as we were. He was eager to be another resource for this story and, as it turns out, has his own personal story with his beloved Ineka to add it. He had only one question after the story, "why did we do the story." Kristine answered that because the story was her idea as she thought of her own experience with an aging pet.

He told us up front what his plan was. He was going to write a blog that explained his collaboration with us, shared his story, provided extra information pet owners can use, and encouraged people to watch the story during the news. I kept saying that we didn't need to know this as we didn't want to have any editorial control in his process. His response was simple. He said this was a collaboration and a true collaboration would work this way.

In fact he decided to also share his blog with us before it was posted. Again, I told him this wasn't necessary. Kristine explained that beyond fact checking we wouldn't give the same courtesy to someone involved in a story we're doing.

Within hours of his visit to the station I received a copy of his blog post. He asked for my opinion. Knowing that he was going to share his blog, I had already decided that I would only request a change if there was a factual error. There was not. I did read it with excitement as I thought about how the collaboration would work out for us and him.

This was my response to him:
"Robert - I cannot thank you enough for collaborating with us. I think you're post is the supplement to the segment that the public can relate to and truly use. I love that you're going to follow through with this on your radio show and are asking people to share their own stories on your site. This is exactly what I imagined happening in this project. I also appreciate that you're willing to share Ineka's story."

Robert saw a great deal more traffic than normal for his post, up over 1,300 more hits in one day than normal. He's planning a Canine Dementia on his radio show May 22. He is the expert, the extra resource, to the story that we at the station just can't be. This is exactly what I envisioned.