The University of Oregon’s Agora Journalism Center, in collaboration with the Engagement Lab at Emerson College, is conducting a study of how journalists are pursuing community engagement at a time when interactions must now be online-only, and how their work may be shifting in this time of crisis. How and to what extent are engagement practices changing for newsrooms, both those with significant digital experience and those without?
We’re looking for up to 15 U.S.-based journalists who are currently working on or planning an engaged journalism project to participate in a six-month study that will help evaluate how they are doing their work.
Reports and Research
In March 2019, reporters and editors from a wide range of Pacific Northwest media organizations gathered in Portland, Oregon, to discuss the state of local journalism in the Pacific Northwest.
Splitting into three groups, each cohort focused on a particular element of this landscape: business and revenue models, engaged journalism and changing journalistic practice. They were joined by faculty, graduate and undergraduate students from the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) at the University of Oregon.
Participants in each conversation discussed challenges, potential solutions, and shared ideas about their experiences. This is the first in a series of reports stemming from that day. It summarizes the key ideas and case studies shared by the group which focused on changing journalistic practice.
At a time of dramatically declining trust in media, news organizations of all kinds are searching for ways to build better relation-ships with the communities they serve. This report highlights trust-building innovations that involve relational journalism: journalism that focuses on enriching reporting by engaging with people as members of communities, not just as “audiences.”
The Agora team studied how some newsrooms are trying to deepen their engagement practice, by looking at how they are putting the tools, consulting, and philosophy offered by the company Hearken to work. It examines how newsrooms are taking up the challenge to involve the public in every stage of the news process, particularly in posing topics for news stories. We find that newsrooms face constraints and challenges implementing “public-powered journalism,” but we also find a heartening commitment across these newsrooms to more deeply connect with the communities they serve.
The 32 Percent Project held a series of community conversations with citizens across the country about trust in the news media in 2017. The team conducted a qualitative analysis of those conversations, which spanned racial, geographic, economic and political divides, and identified six key themes. These are the “conditions of trust” — the critical factors that citizens themselves say must be present for them to trust a news organization.
Based on detailed, in-depth interviews with 12 editors, reporters, and a leading communications scholar based in the region, this paper shines a spotlight on the practice of local journalism in the Pacific Northwest. Local journalism—like the wider news media—has been massively disrupted by the advent of new digital technologies and behaviors. This has unlocked a wider range of information and entertainment sources for audiences, created new spaces and opportunities for advertisers, and resulted in layoffs and the shuttering of titles in many communities across the United States. However, this upheaval, which shows no signs of abating, has also produced new possibilities for journalists and storytellers.