Why Your Community Members Want to Aid Your Reporting & 25 Jobs You Can Ask Them to Do

We’ve been thinking a great deal about participation design and examples of successful practices for community members to be involved in news reporting, production, and site growth. We’ve been interrogating what modern member participation looks like and who’s doing it well. We detail 25 ways that you can invite members to create journalism with you, using examples of live and recent experiments.

Disrupting Traditional News Routines Through Community Engagement

Abstract: This research examines the impact of One River, Many Stories, a community storytelling project designed to disrupt relationships between news organizations and their audiences. Community engagement methods were used to study this two-year storytelling project. Ripple Effects Mapping methods measured its impact. Findings reveal that traditional news media deviated little from established journalism routines while citizen participation was diverse and expansive.

A guide to building deeper relationships with the communities you cover

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.

Public Media and Marginalized Publics

Curious City, a series produced by WBEZ Chicago Public Media, invites listeners to participate in the reporting process. Using the Hearken digital engagement platform, listeners ask and then vote on questions that are turned into radio stories. Over a year, Curious City attempted to engage residents of Chicago areas that traditionally had few public radio listeners, mostly stigmatized African-American and Latinx neighborhoods, to participate via face-to-face outreach, outreach via community partners, or social media marketing. Using a communication infrastructure theory framework, this study draws from observations and 25 interviews with journalists, participating audience members, residents of targeted outreach areas, and partner organizations to examine best practices to combine digital and offline strategies, and the importance of pre- and post-broadcast engagement.

How They Did It: ProPublica’s Engagement Journalism

ProPublica is well aware of the benefits — and impact — of crowdsourcing. It landed a story about US President Donald Trump having sold condominiums to his own son at big discounts, avoiding the usual taxes, because a reader tipped them off after digging into Trump disclosure documents that ProPublica shared. GIJN’s program coordinator Eunice Au spoke with ProPublica’s deputy editor of engagement, Terry Parris Jr., about the nonprofit newsroom’s strategy in encouraging reader and community participation in its stories. Another view from MediaShift.

Gather: The Art and Science of Effective Convening

Gather is a hands-on guidebook for all convening designers and social change leaders who want to create convenings that tap into a group’s collective intelligence and make substantial progress on a shared challenge. It provides simple frameworks for the questions that are often ignored: whether convening is the right tool to use to advance a strategic agenda, and how a convening can be used to achieve a specific purpose. It then helps readers understand how to customize the design to fit that purpose, laying out a clear series of steps for what is a naturally chaotic workflow.

Discussing the News: The Uneasy Alliance of Participatory Journalists and the Critical Public

This book examines two new roles that journalists assume in a participatory media environment – the administration (moderation) of online discussion and the monitoring of and engagement in comments below their articles. Based on a three-year ethnographic study, the book argues that as media organizations face a crisis in their ability to represent the public, the challenge is to orchestrate participatory journalism as a collective accomplishment in which everyone is not a journalist but everyone can be a contributor.