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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:

  • “SOCIAL” MEDIA: Let’s use our tools to fuel relationships, not just clicks.

  • CASE STUDY: Revisit how Front Porch Forum built a social network at the neighborhood level.

  • JOB ALERT: The Washington Post is looking for a Newsletter Editor.

  • HOT READ: Read API's look into the process of shifting from ad revenue to reader revenue.

  • INTROS: Meet Jorge Caraballo, engagement editor of NPR podcast Radio Ambulante.

Creating truly “social” media

In the year since Gather’s public beta launch, we’ve talked continually about how we use social media. Story consumption, conversation, outreach, feedback, audience growth … social media tools fuel so much of our engagement work.

This month, our Topic of the Month will be using social media as tools for engagement.

We’ll talk about best practices and tips for some different platforms. We know that a lot of our members have social media strategy as a core part of their job — and a key element in how their performance is assessed.

We also believe that social media use itself doesn’t equal engagement. It’s what we do with the tools that matter. To be actually “social,” our social media use needs to involve not just talking but also listening, responding and adjusting, right?

Gather has at its core a belief in relational engagement. The continuum of public engagement might start with people learning from our information, as Gather executive director Andrew DeVigal has written for us, but it is most effective when it grows into relationships that involve contributions and collaboration on the part of our communities.

Social media platforms are often journalists’ most efficient tools for seeking and receiving feedback, and for communicating on behalf of the brand. As my Trusting News partners have found, inviting questions about journalism on Facebook (then sticking around to answer them) is an easy, effective way to publicly correct misassumptions and proactively tell the story of your work.

As a group on Gather, we have different answers about what we hope social media platforms can do for us, and we definitely have audiences with different needs. Our hope is that in October, we can dive into the opportunities these platforms offer. And as always, our focus will be on the interactions journalists have with their communities and how engagement journalist can strengthen those relationships.

Let’s kick our discussions off with an easy census-like callout:
What’s the social media platform you rely on most for your journalism work? And what’s one you really wish you understood better? Answer on Slack.

Joy Mayer, Gather community manager

Note: Hundreds of you regularly open this newsletter and haven’t joined our Slack community yet. I encourage you to check it out, even if you’re not on Slack otherwise. If Facebook is more your style, we’re also affiliated with the Engaged Journalism Facebook group, and we’ll post these callouts there this month as well.

Case Study: How Front Porch Forum Built a Social Network at the Neighborhood Level

Editor's Note: Feeling a little déjà vu? Don't worry, it's not just you; we periodically re-feature some of our best content so newer members don't miss out.

By Ben DeJarnette

In 2000, Michael Wood-Lewis and his wife, Valerie, created an email newsletter to help them connect with neighbors in their Burlington, Vermont, neighborhood. Wood-Lewis distributed fliers in people’s mailboxes to spread the word, and eventually nearly 90 percent of the neighborhood signed up for his crowdsourced updates on everything from lost cats to weekend block parties.

Those were the humble beginnings of Front Porch Forum, a small business that now serves every local community in Vermont — and that has been featured by NPR, Huffington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.

Read the case study on Gather.

You need a Gather account to view this content. Request an invitation, or let us know if your invite hasn't arrived. You’ll find 90 case studies and featured projects on Gather. Take a look through, and then recommend projects you’d like to see us dig into.

We’re adding to our collection of case studies and featured projects on Gather, and we’ve made it easier for you to share your ideas with a new Google form. Feel free to tell us about your own work or work you admire or want to learn from. And thanks for your help!

Lightning Chats

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

We’ll be announcing times for two chats (one about Nextdoor and one about Reddit) as soon as plans are firm. In the meantime, catch up on these other chats related to social media work:

Each link has a video replay of the 30-minute chat, along with notes.

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:
  • Newsletter EditorWashington Post: "The Washington Post is looking for a newsletter editor to support a wide portfolio of editorial products that have become an essential part of The Post’s success in reaching and retaining readers. This editor will help oversee and improve existing newsletters, scout new opportunities, grow audiences and shape the future of our in-house email tool, Carta.

    The ideal candidate for this job will have experience launching or writing newsletters and using analytics to make decisions. Strong news judgment, a desire to experiment and an interest in distribution and how readers consume news in 2018 is essential. This person should care deeply about newsletters as a platform for delivering journalism and as a tool for deepening reader engagement. This editor must have excellent communication skills and should be excited to work with a small group executing our day-to-day newsletter operation reaching millions of readers. This role also involves very close partnership and collaboration with engineering, product, subscriptions, analytics and advertising teams." Learn more. 

Community Updates

  • Engaged meetings: Questions can be a great way to bring engagement into newsroom conversations. We asked on Slack last week: What is your favorite question to ask in meetings? (One gem, from Janine Anderson: “Who can we help today?”)
  • Taking responsibility: As Andrew Losowsky and others pointed out last week, when we cover traumatic topics like sexual assault, our community sometimes reaches back out to us with their own experiences. They’re feeling brave and see journalists as trusted way to share. Are we ready to receive those stories — and to treat the storytellers with care?
  • Hot Read: "What it takes to shift a news organization to reader revenue" by Gatherer Damon Kiesow. (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 Jorge Caraballo, this week's Featured Member.

Name: Jorge Caraballo 

What you do: I’m the engagement editor of Radio Ambulante, NPR’s first podcast in Spanish.

Why you're on Gather: Working as an engagement editor has helped me to be optimistic about the possibilities of journalism in this networked era. However, it’s frustrating that for a lot of my colleagues in journalism the engagement work is just a bonus track, a net to capture eyeballs. Gather is a rewarding community where I can learn from colleagues who believe in the value of a close relationship with those who we serve.  

One thing you want to learn on Gather: Online and offline strategies to increase the civic impact of my work as a journalist and engagement editor.

One thing you have to share on Gather: Last year I used postcards to inform about a housing crisis in a neighborhood in Boston. The goal of the project was to share resources in an engaging way, so people in the community could better organize themselves and, hopefully, avoid eviction. I’d like to share the experience of that project. You can read it here: What is Postcard Journalism?

One thing about your work that gets you especially pumped up: I’ve been working with Radio Ambulante for a year, and it still surprises me the quality of the conversations and collaborations in our community. I love to see how our listeners are creating strong ties between themselves, and even if they have disagreements, they keep a respectful and empathetic tone when they interact because, before all, they’re Radio Ambulante listeners.

Who or what inspired you to get into this work? I’m a big fan of Ethan Zuckerman and Sasha Costanza-Chock from the MIT Center for Civic Media. I had the privilege of learning from them while I lived in Boston two years ago, and they’ve definitely influenced how I understand my role as a journalist.

Would you rather give up social media or coffee for a week? Social media. I want to delete my personal social media accounts every other day. After working eight or ten hours a day in social media, I just can’t check my Instagram or Twitter accounts. It feels like being trapped in your office. (And there’s also a second reason: Even though I’m Colombian, I avoid coffee as much as I can.)

Links for ways to connect with you.
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