What does engaged journalism mean to journalists? What are the common practices that can be thought of as engaged journalism? What is engaged journalism? We — the News Integrity Initiative and Impact Architects — attempted to surface some answers with a survey administered among journalists in August and September 2018. The survey results, when taken together with results from a survey conducted by Hearken and research done by EJC, provide insights into the what, the why, the who, and the how of engaged journalism.
The Dallas Morning News has created a Facebook Group for its subscribers. It’s a way to grow loyalty among those who pay for its journalism and give them more direct access to the paper’s journalists and editors. Members of the group also get exclusive benefits such as tickets to events and other perks … In this issue, we’re looking at how the Morning News built its subscriber group and how the newsroom and marketing departments collaborate to run it.
What if readers, not just sources, were an active part of the news reporting process? A new group of journalists is exploring that possibility in an effort to deepen their reporting and build community relationships. ‘Engagement reporters’ are journalists who combine the power of community engagement with traditional news reporting to do journalism that aims to authentically serve the community and reflect their interests and needs. They’re not audience engagement editors and they’re not news reporters — they live in both worlds.
When it comes to hiring and promoting Latinas in newsrooms, the powers that be often blame a lack of progress on their inability to find enough candidates with the requisite qualifications, also known as the “pipeline” problem. As a response, Dallas-based former television reporter Rebecca Aguilar launched a Facebook page called “Latinas in Journalism.” Within four hours of its November launch, the page got 200 members. Within three days, it was up to 1,000. Today, it has almost 1,400 members and more joining daily.
Language matters. How we think about and frame the communities we serve inside the newsroom influences the issues we tackle, the assignments we pursue, how we define success, and how we edit, package and circulate our stories. That’s why we want to share some strategies, based on our own hard-learned lessons, for how to build genuine and productive relationships with your communities.
Based on the post, Engagement is Relational, not Transactional, this continuum visualizes the continuous loop between journalists and communities when the public is at the center of our journalism. “The question we often forget to ask ourselves is: How can we motivate more journalists (and journalism students) to put the community at the center of their work, be better listeners, and understand more precisely the needs of the public? Until we can think of the public not just as “audiences” and “consumers,” but also as experts and partners in the communities we aim to serve, we shouldn’t expect to receive the public’s complete trust.”
Engagement can be lonely work. Many of us do not have in-person colleagues who understand or even support our efforts. We crave a sense of belonging — that feeling that other people get us, like us, and have our back. We want to feel like we’re part of an intentional community. The community we need shouldn’t, however, come with a membership application. There’s room for diverse motivations, organizations, goals, and strategies under the large umbrella of engaged journalism.
What happens when journalists join in the discussion in the often-frightening comments section below their articles? That’s one of the questions I sought to answer in my book, Discussing the News: the uneasy alliance of participatory journalists and the critical public, published earlier this year. In traditional newspaper culture, journalists do not often engage with their readers. So, as a researcher I jumped at the chance of witnessing an attempt to foster a more conversational relationship between journalists and the public at the newly-founded Slovak daily, Denník N.
Driving through Alabama on Presidents’ Day, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg swung by the newsroom of the Selma Times-Journal. In a post to his 86 million followers Monday night, he thanked journalists for their efforts to “surface truth” and “keep their communities informed.” Zuckerberg’s post comes on the heels of his nearly 6,000-word manifesto that offered an ambitious vision for Facebook’s global role. This welcome change of direction couldn’t come at a more critical time.
Many will remember—some with a touch of heat—the 1990’s movement known as civic (or public) journalism, which called for a rethinking of newsrooms’ relationships with their communities. Is today’s engaged journalism a new chapter of that movement? As someone who edited a newspaper during those earlier years, and who is now working as a senior fellow and consultant with the Democracy Fund, I’d say the short answer is yes – but: Engaged journalism is a much-evolved descendant, born into a radically changed landscape.
Identifying reliable sources and reaching broad audiences are challenging tasks, especially when covering “untapped” communities that have little experience in the media spotlight. Interacting with such populations requires time, skill, and, in some cases, an entirely new approach to journalism … In this set of suggestions for editors seeking to reflect diverse perspectives through community engagement, [contributing] editors share their thoughts on powerful, people-centered journalism.
At the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, we believe that journalism sustainability is rooted in building stronger relationships between communities and newsrooms. While the distinction between “building with” instead of “building for” feels at first like semantics, when we begin to use it as a lens to examine journalism as both a process and a product, we see numerous ways it challenges the status quo.