This report focuses on what we have learned using Developmental Evaluation with several community engagement projects, two of them in partnership with journalism organizations. In brief, we found that when journalism is at or near the center of focus, it gets in the way of reinventing thriving local communications ecosystems. Innovations are more likely to come by imagining this emerging ecosystem through a broader perspective, one that considers digital, cultural, demographic, and technological shifts while also drawing from traditional elements of journalism.
What’s possible when the public and journalists engage to support communities to thrive? Engagement is about authentic connections, valuing people, and mutual exchanges so that what’s best for individuals and the community as a whole emerges. With both journalists and other community members present at Experience Engagement, some conversations also pointed towards a communications ecosystem that supports the civic health of communities. Beyond journalism, as we know it, this civic communications ecosystem would provide robust information, feedback, inclusive dialogue, strategy and action for serving community goals. Read more of this from co-author Peggy Holman.