Instead of letting public access channels wither due to commercial market fluctuations, we should publicly fund and expand the precious communication infrastructure that access media offers.
In 2015, The Seattle Globalist launched Your City. Your Story. Your Voice., a community media workshop series that served as a deconstructed journalism school for Seattle’s international communities. While it has always been their mission to elevate diverse voices, the daily online publication provided a formal orientation and introductory training to new writers and visual journalists.
In May 2018, 100 Days in Appalachia held The Pittsburgh Pitch, an event that used crowdfunding to fund local journalism. Modeled after Wheeling Heritage’s Show of Hands, 100 Days in Appalachia and the Center for Innovation at Point Park University asked local journalists in Pittsburgh to submit pitches under one theme.
Throughout 2016, the Center for Michigan’s engagement team led in-person discussions and phone polls about public trust in state government as part of their public engagement campaign, Fractured Trust: Lost Faith in State Government, and How to Restore It. More than 5,000 Michigan residents participated, and the report was distributed to every state legislator and member of the governor’s team. Learn more here, here, here, and here.
Bitch Media tested whether engagement platform Hearken improved engagement and/or increased membership among users. During the “Turning Readers Into Funders” experiment, Bitch Media found that Hearken-prompted content was 125% more engaging than non-Hearken prompted content. Learn more from Hearken’s project review and their ONA17 session.
Story Map is a mapping tool that uses in-story geocode integration to highlight the direct geographic relevance of news coverage. The Austin Monitor aimed to use the tool to increase site traffic and turn readers into subscribers. Though subscribers didn’t increase, visitors spent significantly more time on the site. Learn more about this project from INN and NiemanLabs.
In 2014, Carolina Public Press launched News Exchange, a series of free public meetings to invite communities to provide direct feedback on their local reporting efforts. Community members made suggestions for improvements, pitched story ideas, and allowed community members to discuss important issues with each other. Since its launch, the News Exchange has hosted dozens of events in several North Carolina counties. Learn more at Mountain Xpress and MediaShift.
The Off/Page Project, a collaboration between the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) and Youth Speaks, combines investigative reporting and youth poetry. Journalists from CIR share details of their investigations with youth storytellers and collaborate to write poetry that is both profound performance art and factually accurate reporting. The resulting poetry is then performed publicly, either in-person or through multimedia packages. Learn more about this project from Mashable and Youth Radio.
City Limits, an investigative hyperlocal news source in NYC, created the Art at the Limits series, which actively engaged readers by encouraging them to submit their own stories and artwork highlighting their city experiences. In addition to collecting readers’ art and stories and featuring them on social media, City Limits also created a map of outer borough art galleries where readers could submit their favorite hidden gems.
ZoneIn is a City Limits initiative designed to cover the de Blasio City Limits, an investigative hyperlocal news source in NYC, created the public information and civic engagement project ZoneIn in YEAR to cover the de Blasio administration’s proposed re-zoning plan. ZoneIn has since grown into the special project Mapping the Future.
CivicStory partnered with Summit Greenfaith Circle, an organization that includes six local houses of worship, to convene Summit’s Sustainable Future, a public event to help launch the “public input” phase of the City of Summit’s 10-year Master Plan re-examination. 60 people attended the event, which included a Q&A and lively post-event discussions; a video of the event aired over a several-week period. Learn more from the city’s 10-year master plan and a public forum.