The Jefferson Center launched Your Voice Ohio in 2017, the second phase of an ongoing collaborative effort to help Ohio newsrooms better understand and respond to the needs of their communities. We’re looking at a variety of methods of engagement — both in-person and online — to find the most effective and sustainable approaches for local newsrooms. Here’s what we’ve learned so far (as of 2018).
After the 2016 election, Colorado Public Radio (CPR) reporters wanted to know how they could help bridge conversation across party lines in an increasingly polarized political climate. So in May, CPR brought together a politically and ethnically diverse group of listeners to share a meal and engage in conversation. The dinner series, now dubbed Breaking Bread.
Following a surge of populist movements in Europe, the need to engage with the public felt acute. German news organization ZEIT Online wondered, “Could someone develop a dating platform for political debates?” To find out, ZEIT Online launched a project called Germany Talks.
In March 2017, Seattle’s The Evergrey took about 20 Seattleites to rural Oregon to spend an afternoon in conversation with 16 residents of Sherman County. The project’s name, Melting Mountains, was coined by Sandy Macnab, a just-retired Sherman and Wasco County agricultural agent who planned the event with Anika Anand and Mónica Guzmán, co-founders of The Evergrey.
As part of a pilot for Challenge for Change, a national media project in Canada, Discourse Media reporter Brielle Morgan organized a series of listening events to discuss the child welfare system in B.C. Morgan highlighted the challenges faced by Indigenous children, but also needed to acknowledge and tackle the community’s deep distrust of the media.
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.
This guide is designed to give newsrooms a simple, step-by-step process to host focus groups with local residents. It is based on the work of Phil Napoli, Jessica Crowell, and Kathleen McCollough at the Rutgers University News Measures Research Project at the Media + The Public Interest Initiative.
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 book describes a wildly popular approach to organizational change that dramatically improves performance by encouraging people to study, discuss, learn from, and build on what’s working, rather than simply trying to fix what’s not. Whitney and Trosten-Bloom use examples from many different types of organizations to illustrate Appreciative Inquiry (AI) in action. The authors have included a new chapter on the community applications of Appreciative Inquiry, as well as a host of new examples and other enhancements. More on AI here, here, and here.
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.