Community in Unity, created by Alaska Public Media, invites residents of Alaska to sit down and participate in face-to-face discussions in order to tackle relevant community issues. Recorded for radio broadcast, the group conversations have included topics ranging from homelessness to race and identity with the hopes of getting people who wouldn’t normally meet together.
The Yarn Exchange Radio Program shares stories that cultivate a more cohesive community by drawing from its multigenerational and multicultural landscape. The ensemble cast, composed of community members, performs a monthly radio show on themes chosen by the cast.
Parents connected with community resources to help combat the high infant mortality rate in Richland County. The community baby shower was a response to reporter Brittany Schock’s series on infant mortality: Healing Hope. With SJN, Schock organized the event and set up a Listening Post to give mothers an opportunity to share their experiences, advice, and vulnerabilities.
Civil Beat’s Civil Café series convenes influencers and knowledge experts to debate and discuss important Hawaii issues in front of an active and engaged audience. Most discussions are moderated by a Civil Beat editor or reporter, and cover timely and topical issues complementary to Civil Beat reporting like climate change, legislative issues, and economic welfare.
In this guide, we will draw on lessons and case studies from news events run by newsrooms of all sizes and share some key lessons for publishers who are just getting started.
We had a fruitful conversation on hosting live events with Sarah Binder the Engagement Manager of Iowa Ideas, Megan Finnerty the Director of the USA TODAY Network’s Storytellers Project, and jesikah maria ross the Senior Community Engagement Strategist at Capital Public Radio.
Verify debuted in 2016 in response to a challenge from WFAA’s corporate parent, TEGNA, to find ways to “truth-test” the news. For Verify, reporter David Schechter and producer/photographer Chance Horner select a topic of public interest (e.g. homeless camps, fracking, the death penalty) and invite a citizen reporter to join them on a “road trip” throughout the reporting process.
The Austin Monitor, an innovative nonprofit newsroom that covers municipal matters in detail, sought ways to engage readers on the most mundane issues. It has found success by hosting Budget Game Nights that challenge citizens to come up with their own solutions for the city’s budget, an interactive approach that the Monitor and its project partner, Glasshouse Policy.
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.
In 2017, Southern California Public Radio (KPCC) piloted Unheard LA, a community-driven live storytelling series that featured people’s first-person accounts of real-life experiences. KPCC’s events and engagement arm, KPCC In Person, reached beyond the station’s existing audience by using the P.I.N., GroundSource, and other engagement tools to solicit story pitches and promote the event.