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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:

  • REFLECTIONS: Gatherers share thoughts on last week's Hearken and LION conferences.

  • JOB ALERT: Check out engagement-related positions at CalMatters, ScienceFriday and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

  • COMMUNITY UPDATES: Request for guest speakers, shopping for tools, newsletter inspiration, and member perks.

  • HOT READ: "Study: male political reporters retweet other dudes 3 times more than their female colleagues" on Vox.

  • INTROS: Meet Stephanie Backus, National Digital Editorial Manager for Hearst TV.

Easing your FOMO with conference highlights

Two journalism conferences with relevance to this community were happening simultaneously last week. Here are some highlights from each.

Hearken’s Engagement Innovation Summit was Thursday and Friday in Brooklyn. On the morning of Day One, Jennifer Brandel asked participants to take an oath regarding their attitudes toward the public. To paraphrase: We will listen to and respect you. We will acknowledge your contributions. We won’t assume you’re all terrible just because one of you says something unkind. 

Photo by Julia Haslanger of the Hearken team.

The tone set by that opening pledge was supported by the radical hospitality shown to the guests. A local business catered healthy, nourishing food. A team of artists invested in creating beauty and offered quick, commissioned works of paper art. A pop-up bookstore offered each participant reading material that supported the event’s themes. In short, the summit cultivated the ethos of engaged journalism and the spirit of information exchange.

 Photo by Andrew DeVigal of Gather and the University of Oregon Agora Journalism Center.

One of my favorite things about the summit was that in addition to highlighting a lot of best practices around engaged journalism, the event also brought in perspectives from other fields. Here are three takeaways from those sessions:

What journalists can learn from community organizers: When you approach a community, think about how they’re thinking about the interaction. Have they felt wronged by journalists in the past? Consider their reasons to be wary of you, and work from there. 

What journalism has in common with the process for medical diagnoses: Both professions too often reward efficiency over deep listening. Both would benefit from avoiding quick conclusions and easy answers. Both should ask more often: How do we know? Are we sure? 

What journalists can learn from religious communities about being member-supported: To feel connected to you, members need to understand who you are and what your mission is. Invite people to get to know you. Show you care about them. Answer their questions. Be transparent about your finances.

People also gathered last week for the LION Publishers Summit in Nashville. Gather Mod Squad member Christine Schmidt was there, and she said she appreciated their 30 ideas in 30 minutes session, in which publishers stood up and gave a shoutout to their best ideas from the past year. She also shared on Slack these two Twitter threads from the event: One on serving diverse communities and another on grant funding for local journalism. Thanks, Christine!

Were you at either of these two events? Share your own highlights in the #meetupsandevents channel on Slack.

Joy Mayer, Gather community manager


Lightning Chats

Lightning chats are 30-minute video chats where we discuss a shared challenge, brainstorm ideas for a project, or learn more about a case study.  Peruse our archive of chats (including video replays) on Gather. You can also subscribe to a lightning chat calendar on Google calendar or on iCal.

While you wait for us to announce future chats, you can check out our archive of chats. (You need to be signed in for the link to work. Request a login here.) Recent popular chats have covered engaged elections, SEO basics, Facebook groups, event hosting, community advisory boards and finding your social media voice. You can also subscribe to a lightning chat calendar on Google calendar or on iCal.

What would you like to see covered? Reply to this email.

Jobs, Fellowships, and Funding

Shoutout to Trevor Eischen, Alex Veeneman, Ariel Zych, and Elizabeth Dunbar for posting these on Slack! Check out the #jobsandfunding Slack to see what other opportunities Gatherers are sharing.

Three engagement-related roles at CalMatters:
  • Engagement Editor: "We need an enthusiastic Engagement Editor who will lead our brand presence on social media, engage Californians in smart conversations and make our newsroom smarter about publishing and promoting our work." Location: Sacramento.
  • Events Director: "We seek someone who combines a mastery of event logistics with the editorial savvy to make sure the right people are on the stage, the topics are compelling, the audience eats up every word and the sponsors feel well loved." Location: Sacramento or statewide.
  • Newsletter Editor: "We seek a smart writer with the wit and depth to engage Californians in the state’s top political and policy stories each weekday." Location: Sacramento or statewide.

Engagement Producer, Science Friday: "We’re looking for an outgoing, innovative, and organized Engagement Producer to involve and interact with our Science Friday communities across various platforms to facilitate conversation on more than just Friday." Loction: NYC

Engagement Editor, The Chronicle of High Education: "The right candidate will play a key role in driving our digital audience strategy, by finding and capitalizing on opportunities to bring in new readers, to build loyalty among current ones, and to create value for subscribers." Location: D.C.

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.
  • Request for guest speakers: Instructors and professors, could you use an infusion of new guest speakers for your classes? Many members of the Gather community would be thrilled to participate. Feel free to use the #teachingandlearning channel to share what you’re looking for. This week, Sara Shipley Hiles from the Missouri School of Journalism expressed that she’s on the hunt for speakers on comment moderation and addressing the digital divide. Join the conversation on Slack
  • Shopping for tools: Nichole Dobo is shopping for social media management platforms, and she asked about comparing prices and features. See what her Gather peers recommend and what prices they’ve been quoted, and offer your own advice or questions. Join the conversation on Slack.
  • Newsletter inspiration: Could your inbox use an infusion of new ideas? The #newsletters channel on Slack has a thread going about favorites. Join the conversation on Slack.
  • Member perks: What swag or perks are most effective in actually encouraging people to sign up or donate? In the #paidacquisitions channel, folks are sharing their personal favorites. Join the conversation on Slack.
  • Hot Read: "Study: male political reporters retweet other dudes 3 times more than their female colleagues" by Laura McGann on Vox. (This is the Gather community's most-shared story on Twitter this week. Look for other 'hot reads' in Friday's Nuzzel newsletter and in the #reads channel on the Gather Slack.)

Meet Stephanie Backus, this week's Featured Member.

Name: Stephanie Backus (moderator of the #tools channel on the Gather Slack) 

What you do: I manage Hearst TV's Digital National News desk. 

Why you're on Gather: I love the conversations the group has around audience and content creation.

One thing you want to learn on Gather: I'm always looking for new tools or trends from fellow journalists!

One thing you have to share on Gather: Working in local TV allows me to look at audiences in a different way and share those insights.

One thing about your work that gets you especially pumped up: I love that moment when you realize something you or your team created has really resonated with the audience. It gives me chills when we can see that instant response with readers!

Who or what inspired you to get into this work? My degree is in sociology, and I've always been a person who studies groups of people. I was a freshman in college on 9/11, which really inspired me to get into journalism, along with a Missouri broadcasting legend, Bob Priddy, who taught me so much about journalism.

Would you rather be at the beach or the mountains? The beach, but there's a lot to be said about the plains, too.

Links for ways to connect with you.
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