Instead of focusing on the audience as one big group in one big conversation, allow the audience to gather in small communities based on interests or geography, on sub pages on social media, and be the facilitator of dialogue there.
The conversation gets better. You get a constructive backing band, that will give you feedback on the covering of these issues. You have a direct channel to communicate with the part of the audience specifically interested in these matters, and they can help with ideas, research and possible sources and new angles.
When both you and a smaller part of the audience could benefit from a close dialogue on a specific topic or area.
Be aware of
More commentary sections to moderate. Also, when you build trust and a tight relationship, you need to maintain it and give something back. You are spending a lot of time on a smaller part of the audience to build trust, a close relationship and more nuanced perspectives. This will of course take time from the work you could do on the main channels. Also, the risk of echo chambers.
Tips for students
This is also a way to establish an interested audience for the journalism you produce.
FB-groups or sites, a whatsapp chat or a physical meetup.