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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:

  • PUBLIC VIEWING: Sharing Gather with friends just got easier.

  • CASE STUDY: Learn how the University of Oregon combined a public forum and interactive technology to deepen engagement.

  • FUNDING ALERT: The Lenfest Institute has opened up a third round of CLEF funding.

  • HOT READ: Read NiemanReport's look into the divergent skill sets of local and national journalists.

  • INTROS: Meet Kristin Walters, Engagement Strategist for Illinois Newsroom.

Go ahead … share that Gather case study


We have a Gather announcement that should be welcome news for people who have long wanted to be able to share specific Gather links with colleagues. Having to request a membership and log in to read content has been a hurdle, and we’re thrilled that our tech partner has now added the ability to link publicly.
As a result, Gather now has public spaces that you and others can access and share without a login and password. To see how it works, we’re going to roll it out first for Case Studies.

Why Case Studies?

When we surveyed the community at the beginning of developing Gather and asked folks to select three priorities from a list of possible platform features, nearly 70 percent of respondents chose “building blocks — the ability to see how others were able to implement projects.” “I'd love to have a space that follows a project from start to finish to show if something was actually successful,” one participant wrote. “How did you start it, do it, end it? Did it work?”

Our Case Studies are designed to dissect a project and invite you to connect with each other to discuss it and learn from it. So take it for a spin now! Find a case study you've admired and share it with colleagues and friends not on Gather. And if you haven't dug into the case studies in awhile, check 'em out. We've added a few the last couple of weeks and will continue to add more as a couple of engagement courses work on them this term.

(BTW, one of the screencasts we put together is intended to help explain some of the best features of case studies: Gather Screencast — Case Studies.)

Why isn't Gather entirely public?

So why not just make the whole thing open? We’ve also heard from the beginning that people want a safe space within the community of practice. In other words, people continue to look for spaces that they feel they can have an honest discussion, share ideas without losing some ownership, and feel that membership includes some exclusive content. In addition, our People Directory includes profiles and contact information, and you entered that information with the expectation that it would be private to the community.

So, for now, we'll go on a slow roll (out). We suspect resources would be a natural next content phase to make public, but we'd also love to hear from you on what you'd like to see next. Please share your thoughts with me at the email below. Also, while we're on the topic of soliciting your feedback, if you haven't already completed the Democracy Fund Collaboration Survey, please do soinformation from that survey will help us figure out what to prioritize next as Gather continues to grow.

— Andrew DeVigal, Gather executive director, andrew.devigal@gmail.com

Case Study: How the University of Oregon Combined a Public Forum and Interactive Technology to Deepen Engagement


By Lathen Gorbett and Keegan Clements-Housser

Don’t Wait for the Quake was a community event hosted by the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication and Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB). The event was held at the University of Oregon’s Portland campus and focused on the importance of earthquake preparedness in the Pacific Northwest.

Don’t Wait for the Quake featured a panel of earthquake and emergency preparedness experts as well as informational videos produced by students from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC). Throughout the program, the audience reacted in real time through an audience engagement tool called HARVIS, allowing the video producers to understand how their content was being received. The project was led by University of Oregon SOJC professor Ed Madison.

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 91 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. Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday, Oct. 17 // Reddit for Journalists: Let's talk about the when, the why and the how of using Reddit as part of our journalism. Bring your questions and experiences, and prepare to be guided by some super smart folks (fresh off a session on this at ONA last month). 
  • Bobby Blanchard — Social Media Editor, The Texas Tribune
  • Dominick DiFurio — Editor/Producer, The Dallas Morning News
  • Gene Park — Embedded audience editor, Washington Post
Join us on Zoom at 1pm ET / 10am PT for a 30-minute conversation. Click here to get more connection details or add this to your Google Calendar
 
 

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:
 
  • Community Listening and Engagement Fund, Lenfest Institute: "The Community Listening and Engagement Fund (CLEF) is opening a third round of applications for newsroom, and is offering subsidies for an expanded suite of tools. CLEF will subsidize the costs for newsrooms to adopt the Coral Project’s Talk, DocumentCloud & MuckRock, and the Listening Post Collective’s training, information ecosystem assessments and consulting. These three organizations provide proven technology and consulting services that enable newsrooms to deepen their reporting and relationship with their communities.

    CLEF is supported by the News Integrity Initiative, Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Lenfest Institute for Journalism ... U.S.-based newsrooms (or international newsrooms with a U.S.-based fiscal sponsor) are eligible to apply ... Grant amounts will be determined based on a number of criteria including newsroom size, need, and plans for how the tools will be used. Participating organizations will be required to cover a portion of their expenses, commit the time and personnel necessary to successfully integrate these tools into their editorial workflows, and participate in a study conducted by the Lenfest Institute on the efficacy of these engagement metrics." 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.
 
  • Social metrics: This month on Gather, we’re talking about social media as a tool for engagement. (Last week’s newsletter explained why.) This week’s callout: How does your organization measure success on social media? And are those indicators the same things that get you personally excited? In short, for you and for your org, what does it look like when social media works well? Join the conversation on Slack.
     
  • Free inspiration: The #projects and #brainstorm channels on Slack have been especially full of fascinating conversations in the last week. If you want to see what cool engagement things people are working on and thinking about, take a look. And if Slack isn’t part of your regular routine, consider setting a reminder to stop by just once a week. We think you’ll be glad you did.
     
  • Hot Read: "The Great Disconnect: How Journalists at Local and National Outlets Are Evolving Different Skill Sets" by Steve Myers. (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 Kristin Walters, this week's Featured Member.


Name: Kristin Walters  

What you do: As Engagement Strategist for Illinois Newsroom (a public media RJC), I align the priorities of our statewide team of reporters with the priorities of the communities we serve. I increase the reach and relevance of our journalism and make sure information spreads throughout the populations it most affects. This work takes the form of community listening sessions, reporting-based events, and internal and external communication strategies that build a network of engaged journalists and communities.

Why you’re on Gather: Inspiration and efficiency. I don't want to waste time recreating the wheel — I want to adopt the best practices of my peers and work to adapt them to the communities I serve.

One thing you want to learn on Gather: How best to advocate for engagement in a legacy media setting.

One thing you have to share on Gather: Through community organizing and other past professional experiences, I have gained insight into what many kinds of institutions, businesses, and individuals value. Because of this I am particularly adept at creating strategic partnerships around shared goals and values, even between unlikely collaborators.

One thing about your work that gets you especially pumped up: Community change. I love when reporters' work contextualizes concepts in a way that really clicks for community members. Once community members have a better understanding of an issue, that's when they can more clearly figure out their path of action forward. Adding an event on top of this kind of reporting then connects the most interested and impassioned individuals to each other, and that's when the magic happens! Through my work I've seen new chapters of nonprofits open, teachers find solutions for their classroom struggles, and young voters become more confident and driven. It's a pleasure!

Who or what inspired you to get into this work? A close friend of mine inspired me to become more civically active in my town of Urbana, Illinois. I thought more critically about the community I wanted to live in and all the ways my town did and did not meet those requirements. With help from many neighbors and peers, my friend and I created community events that educated and inspired people to better engage in their community. Positive change happened and I was hooked! Becoming part of a newsroom meant more impact on topics like health and education which feels very important at this critical moment for Illinois and for the United States.

Would you rather give up social media or coffee for a week? Social media. Coffee helps my mind focus, and social media spreads my mind too thin. It's very difficult to weed out all the useless information on social media ... coffee for the win.

Links for ways to connect with you:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristin-erika-walters/
illinoisnewsroom.org
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