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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:

  • NEW TOOLKITS: Doing community-centered journalism well often involves systems thinking and making your methods more participatory. Two new resources distill tried-and-true processes.

  • LIGHTNING CHAT: TODAY @ 2pm ET - Getting started on DEI Audits with Chalkbeat.

  • JOB ALERT: Apply to be a Community Engagement Producer at NHPR, or for a philanthropic role at the Local Media Association’s Center for Journalism Funding.

  • COMMUNITY UPDATES: Beyond newsletter list size, making a “decision tree” for responding to comments, submit your membership-oriented job description, and what Crosscut is doing to improve trust.

  • HOT READ: "Homeland Security making plans to deploy some 150 agents in Chicago this week, with scope of duty unknown.”

  • INTROS: Meet Natalie Yahr, a reporter and podcast producer at The Capital Times.

Two toolkits: one on participatory journalism, the other on systems thinking

I attended my first-ever SRCCON conference last week and wow, was it powerful. The organizers at OpenNews plan on hosting virtual watch parties for some of the talks in the coming weeks, so I’ll save any reflections for those announcements. For now, it was great learning about two new toolkits that I think our Gather community will find useful.

The first is jesikah maria ross’ Participatory Journalism Playbook. jesikah has shared her engagement approach with the Gather community over the years, and this playbook weaves all those pieces into a whole that is equal parts framework and narrative case study. As jesikah writes in the opening: 

“This guide is about what engagement looks like and what it takes to do it well. My hope is that it fuels colleagues’ efforts nationwide who struggle for recognition and support in newsroom workflows, as well as helps editors and reporters realize that engagement is not separate from editorial, but plays a fundamental role in crafting relevant, powerful, and nuanced journalism.”

A great complement to jesikah’s playbook is the Systems Thinking for Journalists toolkit by the Journalism + Design Lab at The New School. The lab has been iterating on how to bring systems thinking practices to journalists since 2017, and this toolkit brings their lessons learned and methods into one process. Here’s a sneak peak into the tools they offer:

  • Visualize the systems in your reporting
  • Create a guiding vision for your reporting
  • Identify key stakeholders & information needs
  • Map your story as a system
  • Surface dynamic patterns in your story
  • Uncover assumptions driving the system
  • Questions to ask + habits to build
Alisha Savson, Gather community manager

Lightning Chats

Discuss a shared challenge, brainstorm ideas for a project, or learn more about a case study in our 30 minute chats. You can subscribe to a lightning chat calendar on Google calendar or on iCal or revisit past chats in the archive (login for full access). Here's what's coming up:
  • TODAY, 2pm ET // Getting started on DEI Audits with Chalkbeat: DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) audits are one way to check how well your coverage and staff reflect the communities you serve. But how can you get started? Join Caroline Bauman and Bene Cipolla from Chalkbeat as they share why Chalkbeat decided to conduct a DEI audit, what research they did to prepare, how they defined the scope of their first audit, what they’ve learned, and what’s next. Register on Zoom* for a 30-minute conversation at 2pm ET / 11am PT. Click here to add this to your Google Calendar.
*NOTE: We’re collecting registrations for lighting chats to help us know who’s coming. We’ll also notify you directly when the video recording and notes are up.

Jobs, Fellowships, and Funding

Shoutout to Alex Veeneman and Emilie Lutostanski for posting these on Slack! (Emilie can answer questions about the Local Media Association job.) Check out the #jobsandinternships and #grantsandfunding Slack channels to see what other opportunities Gatherers are sharing. 

Community Engagement Producer, NHPR: "This producer will support our reporting on important issues in New Hampshire and bring new voices and perspectives into our coverage. They will initiate and oversee multiple outreach projects on various platforms, including broadcast, NHPR's website, social media, newsletters and in-person events. This person will play a key role in NHPR's efforts to grow as an inclusive news organization, engaging with new and diverse audiences in the state." Location: Remote for now; Concord, NH, eventually. Deadline: 8/15
Managing Director, Center for Journalism Funding, Local Media Association:
“We seek an expert at connecting funding opportunities with local journalism projects, who is well known and experienced in the local news media philanthropic community. This position will have special focus on programs and funding to support news organizations owned and operated by people of color, and to support investigative reporting and solutions journalism on issues relevant to communities across North America.” Location: Remote, continental U.S.

Community Updates

The Gather Slack is the thriving hub of our community, where we brainstorm together, ask for and offer advice, and connect with each other. Sign up as a Gather member to join Slack.
  • Beyond list size: Your number of newsletter subscribers doesn’t tell you much about how healthy your newsletter is. What might be a better metric? One Gatherer is curious to hear what you think about a metric they’ve dubbed “audience insights.”
  • Decision tree for comments: A Gatherer is making a “decision tree flow chart … for editors to decide how to handle comments below their stories." Does you or your editor have one? Share here!
  • Collecting job descriptions: The Membership Puzzle Project is “collecting job descriptions for roles supporting membership.” Check out Slack for more specifics.
  • Improving trust: Crosscut recently published an article on how they plan to be more transparent and inclusive in their journalism. Read the article and join the conversation on Slack.

Hot Read: "Homeland Security making plans to deploy some 150 agents in Chicago this week, with scope of duty unknown" by Gregory Pratt and Jeremy Gorner at the Chicago Tribune. (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 Natalie Yahr, this week's Featured Member.

Name: Natalie Yahr

What you do: I’m a reporter and podcast producer at the Capital Times, a digital news outlet and weekly newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. I also write from time to time for the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Why you’re on Gather: I joined Gather a few years back, as I was preparing to move into journalism full-time, because I was, and still am, psyched about engagement reporting and all the brilliant ways reporters were innovating to better serve and represent the most affected communities. Everything seems daunting until you see it done, so I’m on Gather to see inspiring examples, troubleshoot and learn from others.

One thing you want to learn on Gather: I’d like to learn more about how newsrooms and reporters are defining (or redefining) their missions and target audiences.

One thing you have to share on Gather: I think a lot about ethics and have done some reporting on how journalists are confronting sticky issues. I’d be glad to chat with anyone who’s trying to sort out what’s right, and I’d love to nerd out about your manifesto or debate of choice.

One thing about your work that gets you especially pumped up: I love discussing who we should be serving and what it would take to do that well. Basically, I like having a vision to guide each day-to-day decision.

Who or what inspired you to get into this work? I moved into journalism after about seven years of teaching and advising adult students. I knew I wanted to be in the business of listening to and sharing stories, but I also wanted to keep addressing unmet needs in my community, and I loved outreach work. I was fortunate to be offered a temporary job right at that intersection, working with Listening Post New Orleans (you might have heard of their text-an-answer signs and mobile recording booths.) That experience, combined with inspiration from ProPublica’s ambitious crowdsourcing projects, set me down this path.

Would you rather watch a movie, read a book, or listen to a podcast? I’ll say listen to a podcast (or NPR), since audio is what I consume most. I find it makes me eager to do what I ought to do anyway, like exercise or cook or clean the house.

Links for ways to connect with you.
Twitter: @natalieyahr
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