The Bureau Local is a people-powered network setting the news agenda and sparking change, from the ground up. Over the past three years we have set out to make sure news is working for everyone and to do so, we’ve been changing the way it’s done. Whether it is austerity or Brexit, health or education, people across the UK experience inequality in their treatment and how their stories are told, if told at all. That’s why we focus our journalism on shining a light on the power, decisions and policies that threaten the public interest of all people across the UK.
In 2020, collaboration in journalism is about way more than sorting through data together or expanding a story’s reach. Now, collaborative journalism means sharing power among journalists, readers and viewers, community partners, scientists, and more — delivering information that centers and addresses people’s voices and needs, together. The pandemic has elevated the need for robust collaborative and local journalism to tackle a story of this size and specificity. But it’s also reinforced the importance of seeding collaborations with equity and respect, recognizing the unequal effects of COVID-19 on our communities.
In the most exhaustive study of its kind to date, MobLab and 13 other organisations heard from more than 500 social change practitioners and leaders across the global non-profit world. How can organisations measure the depth and value of people’s engagement and participation? What indicators can you use to assess grassroots power building, organising, and volunteer initiatives? Through research, consultations, and a global survey, the resulting report offers a baseline for how organisations are measuring people power today, and reveals where more attention is needed to accurately reflect the power of people coming together for change.
When we started our Locked Out investigation into the lack of routes out of homelessness, the follow up to our Dying Homeless project, we knew this on paper. But what we did not necessarily understand was the disorienting reality for so many of living like this. The Bureau Local project is a young one, and we are still exploring how journalism in the UK could better serve communities. We want to understand how people who live through the issues at hand can help conceive and shape media narratives, rather than being fodder for them.
With dwindling time and resources in newsrooms, does it make sense to invest in citizen-powered journalism and training? These programs might accomplish the mission of many newsrooms and improve democracy as a whole, but do they actually change communities? There are plenty of places to seek answers, because there is no shortage of programs that seek to train and “empower” people on behalf of journalism. At least part of the answer lies in those existing programs and their successes and failures. I want to understand the ingredients of a successful strategy to shift power within communities through training and journalism contributions, and whether people who were involved stay involved or become more active citizens.
In a context of increasing distrust in institutions, including government, media and news, there is need to understand how civic innovators are using media and technology to counter these trends. Based on over 40 interviews with practitioners, this report identifies “civic media practice” as media and technology used to facilitate democratic process. It focuses specifically on those practitioners using media tools to form relationships and build trust – a practice that sometimes runs counter to the apparent needs of organizations to enhance efficiency through technology. This report identifies civic media practice as a direct response to the crisis of distrust and describes the negotiation of values that takes place as media is designed and deployed in organizations.
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.
Our focus on inclusion is misplaced as long as it fails to change the structures and practices that promote exclusion in the first place. Inclusion is inherently about exclusion. No matter what the particular subject — voting, education, technology, you name it — whenever we talk about the need to include people we implicitly acknowledge that the status quo is exclusive — that there are people who are currently not included in X, Y, or Z, but who could be. That’s the language we use — those of us living comfortably in our own inclusion: “Not included.”
We attempt to demystify and reveal the many faces of power. We look at power as an individual, collective, and political force that can either undermine or empower citizens and their organizations. It is a force that alternatively can facilitate, hasten, or halt the process of change promoted through advocacy. For this discussion, we draw on practical experience and theory, particularly related to poverty and women’s rights where power has been analyzed from the vantage point of subordination and discrimination. We also offer a variety of tools and frameworks for mapping and analyzing power and interests.