In 2016, Chicago-based civic journalism lab City Bureau started its Documenters program, which pays and equips community members to document public meetings and civic events in the city. As the program grew, they teamed up with ProPublica Illinois and volunteer coders to “scrape” the web for public meeting listings and populate an events calendar usable by journalists and citizens alike.
Iowa Ideas is a reporting and event series started by the Cedar Rapids Gazette in 2016 and designed to “explore the key questions and big ideas that will shape the future of Iowa.” The project’s hallmark event this year was its inaugural conference, which brought together more than 600 people to discuss Iowa’s education, workforce, healthcare, agriculture, energy, environment, and transportation.
Public Radio International (PRI) launched the reporting project Global Nation in 2012 to cover the “real-world stories of immigrants in the United States—their challenges, successes and how uneven US immigration laws affect their lives.” PRI then created the Global Nation Exchange to foster discussion between immigrants and help ground editorial decisions in what was most important to them.
In November 2016, Vox started a Facebook group called What’s Next? A Community for Obamacare Enrollees by Vox. Vox focused on inviting people who rely on the Affordable Care Act for health insurance coverage and who weren’t sure what the 2016 election — and Republicans’ promises of repeal — meant for them. It was later renamed to “VoxCare.”
In 2014, Michigan Radio launched MI Curious, a public-powered news initiative that invites community members to help choose what stories get assigned. Modeled after WBEZ’s Curious City, MI Curious uses Hearken to a) collect people’s burning questions about Michigan culture, sports, history, and other topics, and b) put the best submissions up for a vote online.
The Arizona Republic / azcentral.com in Phoenix launched The Storytellers Project in 2011 as a series of live storytelling nights. The 90-minute events, emceed by journalists, are now in 21 cities from Fort Collins, Colorado to Nashville, Tennessee. The nights blend the authenticity and discipline of first-person storytelling with the truthfulness, community-building and empowerment of great journalism.
TalkBox is an old pay phone that New York Public Radio (WNYC) retrofitted as a neighborhood listening station. It launched in 2015, one year after Eric Garner died in the chokehold of a NYPD officer on Staten Island, New York. WNYC placed TalkBox inside the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island and invited the community to share thoughts about Garner’s death.