All posts filed under: Case Studies

37 People Struggling to Get by in New Jersey

By Mike Rispoli. When it comes to telling stories of economic hardship, what can journalists learn from social workers? From oral historians? From artists? From community advocates? It turns out, a lot. At a recent workshop at Rutgers University convened by coLAB Arts and Free Press, a dozen people gathered to begin a community collaboration to lift up the stories of New Jersey residents struggling to get by in one of the country’s most expensive states. In New Jersey, 37 percent of residents have trouble affording basic necessities, according to the United Way of Northern New Jersey. Our project, “37 Voices,” will feature interviews with 37 people living in the greater New Brunswick and Newark area who fall into this threshold — working but finding it hard to pay for basic needs. The project’s roots lie in a 2017 collaboration between Rutgers University’s NJ Spark and Free Press. That effort focused on training student journalists in community-engagement techniques and telling the stories of New Brunswick’s working poor. Free Press and the New Brunswick-based group coLAB Arts then decided to take the idea …

Recovery in post-Maria Puerto Rico

By Jesse Hardman. More than a million people access vital information via start-up news site It’s been a harrowing six months since Hurricane Maria hit Freddie Rodriguez’s small town of Juana Díaz near Puerto Rico’s southern coast. An infection from an exposed nail in the storm’s rubble put Rodriguez in the hospital for a stretch. Eventually he returned home to find that a tree had crushed his roof. That’s when community news correspondent Nashaly Alvarado encountered Rodriguez. For the past few months she’s been collecting hurricane recovery news stories and sharing them through “Information as Aid,” a social media-based recovery-focused news feed. Alvarado’s story about Rodriguez ended with a quote: “Lo unico que pido es ayuda para remover el arbol.” (“The only thing I ask is help removing the tree.”) This hyperlocal story got more than a million views, and put a spotlight on the ongoing issues facing many Puerto Ricans as they fight their way back towards normalcy. Rafael Torres read the story and, like many, responded with a comment on Facebook. Unlike all the other …

How to launch Voting Block for your next local election

By Reveal staff. Last year, 25 newsrooms that cover New Jersey joined the collaborative reporting initiative Voting Block. Together, we pioneered a new way to cover elections that brought together newsrooms to use the same engagement framework to inform their reporting. The goal: to spark political dialogue in New Jersey, amplify local priorities from the public for the next governor’s agenda and deepen engagement between communities and newsrooms. To do this, each Voting Block newsroom chose a neighborhood, convened neighbors for a meal, facilitated a discussion using our “Political Potluck” guide and reported on the gubernatorial election through the lens of these neighborhood conversations. Coordinated by The Center for Cooperative Media, The Center for Investigative Reporting and New America Media, Voting Block brought together a diverse cohort of media organizations, including WNYC, WHYY, NJ Spotlight, The Record, Route 40, Zaman Amerika and Reporte Hispano, to collectively pilot this reporting method. The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation provided critical funding to support the project. In the end, Voting Block newsrooms talked with more than 100 neighbors about their political priorities, produced over 70 …

How the Public Fueled Our Investigations in 2017

by Terry Parris Jr. A year ago, we said we would focus more on how the public can participate in our investigative reporting. We wanted to work more collaboratively and openly, and create more opportunities for participation. So, our engagement team focused on finding the right audience — not just the biggest — to not only share our reporting but to help us do reporting. As we wrote last year, that meant hiring journalists who specialize in building and cultivating communities. We decided to call them engagement reporters, and we hired three great ones: Adriana Gallardo, Ariana Tobin and Logan Jaffe. The result? Lots of good journalism that would otherwise not have existed. Here are a few things the public helped us report. You helped us tell the story of why America is the most dangerous place in the developed world in which to give birth. One of ProPublica’s most read stories last year was the tale of a neonatal nurse who died while giving birth at her own hospital. It was the first story in our series examining maternal care in …

Deploying Reach NC Voices statewide, shaping our future

by Nation Hahn. 2017 was a difficult year for so many of the people we crossed paths with in communities across our state. We will never forget the young lady in Madison County who was living without her incarcerated father and her mother who had disappeared because she was probably “on some stuff,” as the student’s grandmother told me in the pew of a small country church. We still get emotional when we visit the closed Princeville Elementary in Edgecombe County and recall the impacts of Hurricane Matthew a year-plus later. Yet these stories, as difficult as they might be, serve to remind us of what is possible when solutions are crafted by the community with the community in mind. In Madison County, PAGE serves as a lifeline and a launching pad for the young woman we met and others just like her. PAGE hires residents from the community and invests in young women who will lead the way forward for Madison County and perhaps the entire region. We took philanthropists and policymakers to Madison County last …

🗝 A Fund to Help Newsrooms Become Better at Listening and Engagement 👂🏽

By Jennifer Brandel and Andrew Haeg. Let’s start with a simple premise: Journalism at its core and at its best, is a service. Is that fair? Yes? Then, it follows that the crisis in trust that journalism is facing reflects, at some level, a failure of service. We can argue about the culprits and the roots of this failure. But we all share in the problem and need to take responsibility for solving it. Certainly it’s not an issue of quantity — never before have we had access to so much information. And it may not even be one of quality — never before have we had access to so much smart and informed writing and opinion. Journalism is suffering from a problem of connection. Connecting people with information they are looking for or need (vs. will click on). Connecting journalists with people who are left out of the conversation. Connecting newsrooms with underserved communities. If a lack of a connection is the problem, then what might be the solution? We believe it’s relationships. What should the 21st century …

How are we going to invite and listen to audiences we’ve typically ignored?

By Jenny Choi. Last night in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood a roomful of journalists and community members gathered to discuss the launch of the University of Texas in Austin’s Center for Media Engagement research analyzing Chicago audiences by neighborhood, roughly divided by the north, west and south-side regions. This event was a part of the Chicago civic media lab City Bureau’s Public Newsroom convening series. In full disclosure, I was a program officer at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and recommended the funding of this study, mostly to get updated baseline data on audience attitudes in specific regions I already knew were identified “information deserts” based on past studies in a new social media as ubiquitous newsfeed reality. (Newsflash: the majority of Chicago residents surveyed get their news from social media!) It’s no secret that Chicago is a highly segregated major city – and that racially and socioeconomically the South and West sides tend to be predominantly black and brown and poorer than their predominantly white northern counterpart. The Center for Media Engagement study showed …

How to Listen Better

By Josh Stearns. More than 30 tools, guides and examples to help journalists — and anyone else — be better listeners. In my weekly newsletter, The Local Fix, I compiled a list of guides, tools, and examples of how newsrooms can listen more deeply to local communities. I’m sharing it here in case it can be useful to others, and to encourage people to add to the list. Listening Articles and Guides Listening is a Revolutionary Act: Part 1 and Part 2 — Jesse Hardman Five Kinds of Listening for Newsrooms and Communities — Josh Stearns Listening as a designer, not a journalist, helped me look deeper — Charla Bear Want to Attract More Readers? Try Listening to Them — Liz Spayd Sensing as Listening: How sensor journalism helps us listen to our environment and each other — Lily Bui Collective Story Harvesting — Amanda Fenton Big Listening — Upwell Listening to People Outside the News — Melody Kramer How Community Listening Sessions Can Help Reach New Audiences — Teresa Gorman Photo by Simon Law, used via Creative Commons Listening Projects in Newsrooms WNNO: The Listening Post AZPM: Dimelo Project Washington Post: This Year I Learned WNYC: TalkBox Carolina Public Press: News Exchange WMMT: Calls From Home Cape and Islands …

What is “Postcard Journalism”?

By Jorge Caraballo. East Boston, Nuestra casa: A social journalism project that uses postcards to inform the Latino community in East Boston about the current housing crisis and the available resources to face it. East Boston (Eastie), Boston’s fourth largest neighborhood, is being rapidly transformed. Its location and public facilities have made it attractive for a wave of developers and investors. They’re buying and renovating properties to rent them to young professionals and students who can pay much more than the Latino working class community that has been living there for more than two decades. The fear of being displaced can be felt all around the neighborhood. You hear it in casual conversations on the bus; you read it on the “room-for-rent” signs on the laundromat’s cork boards. It’s told by the families who just got an eviction notice as they walk around Eastie on Sundays to see if they’re lucky enough to find a unit with the old affordable prices. I’ve been reporting displacement in East Boston since 2015, and I’ve seen how it has …

Yes, engaging with your readers will help you make money. Another study proves it.

Bitch Media just released a one-year study they did to see if using Hearken to engage with their readers would result in more people becoming paying supporters of the media organization. Much to our delight (but not surprise), the answer was a resounding “yes” — readers who engage are more likely to become financial backers, and that engagement effort will more than pay for itself. The study is a good read for anyone working in news, particularly at a place with a business model that includes direct audience support by way of subscriptions or membership. (And as advertising rates for news organizations continue to decline, paying subscribers and membership models are increasingly looking like a worthwhile approach.) When you’re asking the audience directly for support, there’s no more compelling argument to give then “we truly listen to you, and actually make the work you’re asking for.” While it might be news to some news organizations that meaningful, direct engagement with the public translates into bottom-line wins, it’s something that many other industries have known and tested for a long time. …