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This is a weekly newsletter for Gather, a project + platform to support community-minded journalists and other engagement professionals. We’d love your feedback. What's useful about this newsletter? What's missing? Let us know

In this week's newsletter:

  • LIVE EVENTS: You want to host one. Now what?

  • CASE STUDY: How can journalism support community building? Read how Free Press' News Voices did (and does) it.

  • JOB ALERT: Hearken is growing. Apply to be their newest Engagement Consultant.

  • HOT READ: NPR's "army of temps" face anxiety and insecurity in the workplace.

  • INTROS: Meet Cory Brown, Audience Insights Consultant for Impact TK.

Lessons from an event involving beer and weed

If your newsroom isn’t having conversations about whether to host live events — for engagement, for revenue or both — you’re probably in the minority.

But how do you get started? What’s involved? What should the content be? Who should the audience be? And … pause for dramatic effect … how will you measure the success of the event?

Kristin Walters is an engagement strategist for Illinois Newsroom, and she’s working on a best practices guide for newsroom events. (Read more about Kristin in this October newsletter.) She’s on a high this week (ahem) after a successful “News & Brews” event that focused on marijuana. You can read more about the event and her experiences in this Slack post.

I also asked her if she’d summarize some key lessons for her Gather colleagues.

Six key takeaways from News & Brews event, from Kristin Walters, Illinois Newsroom

  1. Make friends. Partners can turn a good event into a great one. If you’re working to attract people who are not within your typical audience demographic, you MUST partner with trusted organizations that have your desired audience. (For example, if you are working to attract parents, partner with schools, PTAs, family media outlets, park districts, etc.)
  2. Your venue will set the tone of your event and give you both benefits and challenges in terms of audience. Where you host your event will naturally attract certain audience members while ostracizing others. As much as our events are for “everyone,” an event’s design and venue force decisions about audience to be made.
  3. Always have a metric for success that involves the audience doing something beyond just showing up. The amount of people that show up to your event measures the success of your marketing ability, your venue choice, and the relevance of your programming, but it does not measure whether the content of your event itself was useful or utilized in a way to reach your goal.
  4. Always ask yourself what you want your audience to do AFTER they leave the event and design content around that goal. Do you want them to vote in an election, do you want them to sign up for a newsletter, do you want them to advocate for new media practices? You are empowering people with information, so what do you expect them to do with it?
  5. Start slow. If your org isn't used to hosting events, find a trusted organization in your area that DOES host events like the ones you'd like to do. Talk to the organizers. Find routes for collaboration and take the time to learn from them. They can lead, you can learn, and you can build a case for why these types of events would be valuable for your org to lead, too.
  6. This last part will probably be debatable, but I have strong opinions on this: Don't stuff your "welcome table." It's very exciting to try to hand an audience member every marketing material your org has ever made, but pick ONE (or two). Remember the primary reason for your event and focus every detail on that. You wouldn't produce a reporting story about prison library funding and throw in a few facts about whale hunting, so don't produce an event about prison library funding and hand people a flyer about a documentary on whale hunting. Treat the event like a story, don't add unnecessary or irrelevant content — it's just distracting.

Thanks, Kristin! Here are two other related Gather resources:

Joy Mayer, Gather Community Manager

How Free Press' News Voices Used Journalism to Support Community Building

By Gordon Klco

In 2015, Free Press launched News Voices after recognizing that community members aren’t often included in the discussions around how communities get news or how journalists and newsrooms could better serve the communities they work in. The program started in New Jersey with World Cafe style listening forums where community members could come and share their concerns with journalists. They have now expanded their focus to North Carolina, and the project has evolved into a combination of large and small listening sessions and partnerships with community organizations, artists, journalists and newsrooms. Ultimately, the project seeks to answer “How can journalism support community building?” and “What is journalism’s role in the community?”

Read the case study on Gather.

You can now publicly share the 94 case studies and featured projects on Gather with friends and colleagues. Take a look through, and then recommend projects you’d like to see us dig into.

Lightning Chats

Discuss a shared challenge, brainstorm ideas for a project, or learn more about a case study at Gather's lightning chats. You can also subscribe to a lightning chat calendar on Google calendar or on iCal. Here's what's coming up:

TODAY @ 2 PM ET // What does "local" mean?:
  • How do local communities define themselves? How do news outlets define their audiences? And how do journalists know what’s important to their audiences and what niche they can fill? A recent report is a useful jumping off point for discussion of those questions. Conversation hosts:
    • Amy Schmitz Weiss, associate professor at San Diego State University
    • Jesse Hardman, founder, Listening Post Collective
    • Madeleine Bair, founding director, El Timpano
*Updated Link* Join us on Zoom at 2 pm ET / 11 am PT on Dec. 12 for a 30-minute conversation. Click here to add it to your google calendar or to find more connection details.

Jobs, Fellowships, and Funding

Check out our full list of jobs, fellowships, and funding opportunities on Gather, and let us know what we're missing. Here's what's new this week:
  • Engagement Consultant, Hearken: "Hearken is looking for an engagement consultant to join our team as our customer base expands. The Engagement Consultant will provide individualized support to our partners, including working with news enterprises and international newsrooms, as well as collaborate with colleagues to continuously evolve the ways we support our partners. Each consultant develops deep and ongoing relationships with journalists in their partner newsrooms." Apply by 12/28 at 5pm CT. Learn more.

Community Updates

If you haven't joined the Gather Slack community, you're missing out on a lot of brainstorming, advice giving and collaboration. Join here.
  • How has Gather been valuable to your work? We asked some active members that question recently and got some great responses. You can find some on our landing page at and we’ll feature some here as well. Here’s one to kick us off:
    • Before I joined Gather’s community, I spent hours searching for the best content to improve my job as an engagement editor. Now I’m part of a generous community that shares amazing reads, conversations and insights that immediately go to my “to-read” list.
      — Jorge Caraballo, NPR’s Radio Ambulante

  • Welcome to Gather: Thanks to everyone who attended our first Gather Welcome Session on video chat last week. We got acquainted with each participant, then briefly walked through ways to engage with Gather and answered questions. We plan to do it again in the new year!

Meet Cory Brown, this week's Featured Member.

Name: Cory Brown

What you do: I’m the Audience Insights Consultant for Impact TK. I help small newsrooms build programs to grow reader revenue, reduce churn and build loyal audiences. I’ve worked with nonprofits and for profits, paid products and free products.

Why you’re on Gather: There are a lot of creative people doing great work in journalism, engagement and building the future of news. My favorite thing about working in media is hearing people share ideas that worked for them.

One thing you want to learn on Gather: I want to learn more about the smart and innovative people doing great journalism out there. And I’d love to meet or talk! I’ve already had great conversations with a few Gather members from the Slack community.

One thing you have to share on Gather: I want to share ways of looking at data that newsrooms have found useful and actionable. We are swimming in data. Some of it is valuable, but some of it is distracting. An important piece for me is providing context around numbers. I’m a huge advocate for ongoing customer research to provide that context. Qualitative research gives a deeper understanding of who is reading, why they are reading and what they value. NPS scores can’t beat picking up the phone and talking to customers on a regular basis.

One thing about your work that gets you especially pumped up: Teaching! Journalists have many of the same tools I use every day, they just apply them in a different way. I enjoy teaching journalists new skills to adapt with the changing landscape — or create their own opportunities.

Who or what inspired you to get into this work? When I was 16, my first job was loading bundles of newspapers on trucks in the middle of the night. What really inspired me was seeing how everything was connected. The printing and distribution system of physically producing a daily newspaper, but also how so many people, from drivers to pressmen to managers and folks like me on the loading dock would talk about and share the stories in the paper.

Would you rather watch a movie, read a book, or listen to a podcast? Podcast! Podcasts are a perfect vehicle for me to connect with smart people of different backgrounds and perspectives sharing their views and stories.
Links for ways to connect with you:
DM on the Gather Slack!
If you’re in Chicago, book me for coffee at
Twitter: @tcb
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