Gather’s March 2023 lightning chat invited participants to explore models for “accountability infrastructure” — systems, structures, or programs that facilitate a process of holding stakeholders with more power responsible for listening to and addressing the needs and concerns of those with less.
In this slightly different Lightning Chat, Andrew DeVigal talked with Andrea Wenzel about her book “Community-Centered Journalism: Engaging People, Exploring Solutions, and Building Trust.” In the book, Andrea “models new practices of community-centered journalism that build trust across boundaries of politics, race, and class, and prioritize solutions while engaging the full range of local stakeholders.”
Contemporary journalism faces a crisis of trust that threatens the institution and may imperil democracy itself. Critics and experts see a renewed commitment to local journalism as one solution. But a lasting restoration of public trust requires a different kind of local journalism than is often imagined, one that engages with and shares power among all sectors of a community.
Curious City, a series produced by WBEZ Chicago Public Media, invites listeners to participate in the reporting process. Using the Hearken digital engagement platform, listeners ask and then vote on questions that are turned into radio stories. Over a year, Curious City attempted to engage residents of Chicago areas that traditionally had few public radio listeners, mostly stigmatized African-American and Latinx neighborhoods, to participate via face-to-face outreach, outreach via community partners, or social media marketing. Using a communication infrastructure theory framework, this study draws from observations and 25 interviews with journalists, participating audience members, residents of targeted outreach areas, and partner organizations to examine best practices to combine digital and offline strategies, and the importance of pre- and post-broadcast engagement.
This report explores the potential impacts of local solutions journalism, particularly for underrepresented and stigmatized communities. Solutions journalism explores responses to systemic social problems—critically examining problem-solving efforts that have the potential to scale.