This report focuses on what we have learned using Developmental Evaluation with several community engagement projects, two of them in partnership with journalism organizations. In brief, we found that when journalism is at or near the center of focus, it gets in the way of reinventing thriving local communications ecosystems. Innovations are more likely to come by imagining this emerging ecosystem through a broader perspective, one that considers digital, cultural, demographic, and technological shifts while also drawing from traditional elements of journalism.
Driving through Alabama on Presidents’ Day, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg swung by the newsroom of the Selma Times-Journal. In a post to his 86 million followers Monday night, he thanked journalists for their efforts to “surface truth” and “keep their communities informed.” Zuckerberg’s post comes on the heels of his nearly 6,000-word manifesto that offered an ambitious vision for Facebook’s global role. This welcome change of direction couldn’t come at a more critical time.
Major enterprise stories—stories that take deep dives and attempt to inform readers in substantive ways or to elicit impact—these are the types of stories that encourage readers to move beyond binary and dogmatic thinking about local, national and world events. However, these enterprise stories require considerable resources: time and effort from reporters and a financial investment from the news organization. And once the story is published, the potential audience is limited … So how can journalists get readers to complete these long pieces
Wave after wave of digital innovation has introduced a new set of influences on the public’s news habits. A two-part survey by Pew Research Center, conducted in early 2016 in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, reveals a public that is cautious as it moves into this more complex news environment and discerning in its evaluation of available news sources.
Now more than ever, journalists can engage their audiences as contributors, advisors, advocates, collaborators and partners. This study describes in detail how newsrooms and independent journalists can grow their readership, boost their relevance and find new sources of revenue by listening to and learning from their audiences.
This report explores the potential impacts of local solutions journalism, particularly for underrepresented and stigmatized communities. Solutions journalism explores responses to systemic social problems—critically examining problem-solving efforts that have the potential to scale.
Identifying reliable sources and reaching broad audiences are challenging tasks, especially when covering “untapped” communities that have little experience in the media spotlight. Interacting with such populations requires time, skill, and, in some cases, an entirely new approach to journalism … In this set of suggestions for editors seeking to reflect diverse perspectives through community engagement, [contributing] editors share their thoughts on powerful, people-centered journalism.
The shift to online news is increasing engagement, adding more perspectives, and introducing more witnesses and a wider spectrum of voices to the media industry … In a new paper from Tom Rosenstiel, the paradoxical state of news in the digital age is weighed not in a manner of whether we are better off or worse, but instead in better understanding what is better, what we are losing, and what we can do about it.
This section of the toolkit provides guidance on the issues to consider when planning and designing community engagement. It focuses on quality and effectiveness, process planning and designing engagement tailored to the particular issue, level of participation to be achieved, timeframe and range of stakeholders affected.