In 2018, New Jersey created the Civic Information Consortium, a first-of-its-kind nonprofit with the mission of strengthening local-news coverage and boosting civic engagement in communities across the state. Free Press Action conceived of the Civic Info Bill, which created the consortium and is now serving as a model for other states that are seeking to give people the news and information they need.
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.
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.
This intellectual history of the civic journalism movement focuses on the ideas of Charles Darwin, John Dewey, and George Mead. Author David Perry suggests that the detailed study of these ideas may help shape the future evolution of civic journalism.
This book is an account of the movement for public journalism, or civic journalism, told by Jay Rosen, one of its leading developers and defenders. Rosen recalls the events that led to the movement’s founding and gives a range of examples of how public journalism is practiced in American newsrooms. He traces the intellectual roots of the movement and shows how journalism can be made vital again by rethinking exactly what journalists are for.