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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:

  • COLLABORATION SURVEY: Help the Democracy Fund (and Gather) by participating in an internal survey.

  • CASE STUDY: Revisit how the Cedar Rapids Gazette kicked off Iowa Ideas, a statewide reporting and event series.

  • JOB ALERT: Vox Media's Curbed is looking for an Engagement Editor.

  • HOT READ: Read The News & Observer's look at how coverage of Hurricane Florence highlights why people trust local news.

  • INTROS: Meet Gina Cole, the Engagement Editor for the Seattle Times.

Democracy Fund Collaboration Survey


Hello!

We here at Gather and the Agora Journalism Program are pleased to be working in collaboration with the Democracy Fund to better understand what newsrooms around the country are doing to serve and represent their communities. As part of this collaboration, we're asking our members to participate in a collaboration survey. This survey explores issues of audience engagement, diversity, equity and inclusion, and trust in media, and it will help us understand the current state of the field and how we can best support journalism.

In addition to helping the Democracy Fund (one of Gather’s funders) further their learning, the results of the survey will also be valuable to us here at Gather. After all, we’re on a continual quest to better understand the landscape of engaged journalism and your needs as its practitioners.

Listen, we know there have been several surveys being circulated recently among journalists, and we know you’re busy. But we believe this survey will help answer unique questions not addressed in the others.

Additionally, we’ve tried to keep this short: This survey shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to complete! We would really appreciate your participation and insight as we evaluate where we are as a field and how best to move forward.

Survey Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Gather_CS

Andrew DeVigal, Gather executive director
 

 

Are you new around here?


We have a lot of new members, newsletter subscribers and Slack-ers so far this fall. Here are two links to help you get acquainted (or re-acquainted) with what Gather can offer you. And feel free to get in touch with me anytime at joy@joymayer.com.
Joy Mayer, Gather community manager

Case Study: How The Cedar Rapids Gazette Kicked Off Iowa Ideas, a Statewide Reporting and Event Series


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 Riley Stevenson

Iowa Ideas is a reporting and event series started by the Cedar Rapids Gazette in 2016 and designed to “explore the key questions and big ideas that will shape the future of Iowa.” The project’s hallmark event this year was its inaugural conference, which brought together more than 600 people to discuss Iowa’s education, workforce, healthcare, agriculture, energy, environment, and transportation.

Speakers and attendees ranged from CEOs and elected officials to volunteers and community members. In addition to the conference, Iowa Ideas hosted 14 smaller events throughout the state and produced five editions of a magazine featuring stories found along the way.

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 at Gather's lightning chats. You can also subscribe to a lightning chat calendar on Google calendar or on iCal.

As we get ready to announce October’s lightning chats, here’s a link to one from July that you might have missed:

Engaged journalists on the front lines: Moderating comments can feel like a pointless war zone, but it’s time to take a more proactive approach. In a workshop-style lightning chat, we brainstormed ways to use comments to tell a better story about journalism. We focused on responding to complaints about paywalls and perceptions of bias. Watch the video and read the highlights on Gather.
 
 

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 EditorVox Media (Curbed): "Vox Media employees thrive on innovation and change while ambitiously seeking to master their subject areas, hone their craft, and improve their communities. We help smart, talented, creative professionals make a meaningful impact in media, technology and the world around them. The Vox Media house of networks includes industry-leading media forces like SB Nation, Eater, The Verge, Vox, Curbed, Recode, and Polygon, and reaches an audience of hundreds of millions, generating over a billion content views each month. Curbed is looking for a motivated engagement editor to help us deepen our relationships with our audience(s) through vivid storytelling—continuing to establish Curbed as a multiplatform juggernaut for all intelligent home-related content.

    Drawing from your experience in social media, writing, partnerships, and analytics, you’ll manage a small engagement team to program content across platforms, and you’ll report to Curbed’s executive editor to implement top-level brand strategy for audience development. The engagement editor works to shape content across Curbed’s 40+ social accounts and syndicated platforms, optimizing content for our many different audiences: think Instagram Stories, cleverly deployed GIFs, Twitter threads, partnerships targeted at growing our regular columns, discussions in our active Facebook groups, and more. Your team will drive multi-platform engagement including reader conversations, traffic from external platforms, and brand awareness through strategic partnerships. But that alone won’t lead to the success we expect: We strive to turn all of our writers into engagement experts so that everything we create is highly engaging, no matter where it’s published. That means Curbed writers should do everything from creating social-friendly content to optimizing their stories for readers who find us through search—all under your wise counsel." Learn more. 


Engagement highlights from ONA


Not everyone could be in Austin earlier this month for the Online News Association conference. And even folks who were there couldn’t make it to all sessions. There was so much engagement knowledge dropped. However can we keep up?

Gather is here to help, thanks to some crowdsourcing on Slack. (If you haven't joined the Gather Slack community, you're missing out on a lot of brainstorming, advice giving and collaboration. Join us on Slack here.)

Here’s a rundown of Gatherers’ favorite sessions. Click through to find audio and/or video from the sessions, along with social aggregations that often include links to slide decks. Jessie Shi took notes at a lot of sessions and generously made them public and shared them on Slack. Thanks, Jessie!


What else you're reading 

Meet Gina Cole, this week's Featured Member.


Name: Gina Cole 

What you do: I'm The Seattle Times' engagement editor. That title probably means something different in every newsroom. For me, it means I get to work on all our means of reaching audiences, listening to them and nurturing our relationships with them. That covers everything from newsletters and alerts to social media and commenting, plus reader callouts and our current experiments with Hearken and GroundSource.

Why you’re on Gather: To learn from minds more brilliant than my own! I love that we have this space to exchange ideas about our rapidly growing and changing field. It's so important that journalists support each other so we can all survive and thrive.

What you want to learn on Gather: I want to hear from anyone who's taken responsibility for a toxic commenting community and successfully made it a more productive space. I'm also interested in how other newsrooms are shepherding people up the ladder (or down the funnel; pick your metaphor) from engaged audience members into subscribers/members/supporters, and how you're making the case for engagement work to the business side of the house so you can get the support you need.

What you have to share on Gather: Newsletter strategies that keep readers opening your newsletter, reading your stories and converting from email recipients to paying subscribers — and how email can also help existing subscribers feel more connected to your newsroom. I've also gotten pretty good at answering messages from angry readers, if anyone needs advice on that!

One thing about your work that gets you especially pumped up: When a story or conversation opens someone's mind or helps them understand an issue better.

Who or what inspired you to get into this work? I started out as a reporter at a rural daily. In small newsrooms, everyone has to know how to do almost everything, so I ended up also leading our social media efforts for a while there. That allowed me to connect with folks beyond my own beats. It was awesome to see how invested readers were in what we covered and how, and in seeing their perspectives reflected in the paper. Reporting in a place like that bakes a genuine sense of caring for audiences into your approach. Larger news outlets can learn a lot from "community journalism."

Would you rather give up social media or coffee for a week? This one's easy because I don't drink coffee. If you asked me to give up chai tea lattes, on the other hand... well, I'd be taking a welcome social-media vacation.

Links for ways to connect with you:
twitter.com/Gina_Cole_
linkedin.com/in/ginacole26
gcole@seattletimes.com
ginacole26@gmail.com
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