Huge datasets that cover vital national issues are coming out of the federal government every day, and within them hide endless numbers of story leads for local journalists. With the proliferation of available data, it’s become common for newsrooms to have access to datasets that contain more story leads than they can meaningfully pursue themselves. Collaborative data journalism allows multiple newsrooms to find and tell those stories, increasing impactful stories told.
Engagement reporting at ProPublica is about giving you a place to share that kind of information. Our job is about connecting with, mobilizing and marshaling communities who have information that becomes more powerful when it’s all put together. We operate as kind of journalistic community organizers, both online and off.
In 2014, ProPublica launched its Six Words youth engagement project in partnership with The Race Card Project. This project responded to the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ending “separate but equal” legislation, and focused on two Alabama high schools—one integrated, one all-black. ProPublica reporters invited students from each school to meet and share their experiences around the re-segregation happening in their communities and photograph their experiences in school.
We chatted with Terry Parris Jr. of ProPublica, Summer Fields of Hearken, and Julia Haslanger of Hearken about hiring for engagement. What should you look for in job candidates? What questions should you ask them? How is hiring for these jobs different from other journalism gigs?