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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:

  • DO THEY WANT TO ATTEND? Five questions to ask before deciding to plan an event.

  • JOB ALERT: Southern California Public Radio is looking for an Early Childhood Education reporter who will build engagement into their process.

  • HOT READ: Incoming Harvard freshman Ismail B. Ajjawi ’23 was deported right after arriving in Boston - despite having a visa.

  • INTROS: Meet Christiaan Mader, Publisher/Editor of The Current.

How to plan events your audience will want to attend

A lot of engaged journalism jobs have event planning as part of the job description. That sometimes involves the actual running of events and other times is more about ideas for topics and promotion. 

Whether holding events is primarily about outreach, revenue or loyalty for your organization, it’s likely that you care deeply whether people actually attend! So … how do you know if they will?

That was the topic of last week’s lightning chat with Tiney Ricciardi of the Dallas Morning News and Kristin Walters of Illinois Newsroom. Tiney and Kristin have different goals — the events Tiney works on are often about subscriber loyalty and experiences, while Kristin’s public media newsroom is working on connecting with parts of the community they’re not otherwise reaching. But their advice overlapped in interesting ways.

Watch a full video of the chat and read the notes on Gather. (As always, you need to be signed in for that link to work. Request a login here if you don’t have one.) 

Here are five questions the hosts recommended asking:

  1. What makes you think your event is a good idea? Was it requested directly, or at least hinted at, by your actual audience?
  2. What outcome would you like to have, and how can you structure everything about your event to achieve that goal (from promotion to content)?
  3. Who could you partner with? Consider the location, guests and outreach for the event. Who has similar goals or would appreciate being connected to your organization?
  4. What about your newsroom would people enjoy connecting with? Do you have staff members who are considered local celebrities? Would a tour of the print press be interesting? How do you know? (See point 1, above.)
  5. How could your event serve as an on-ramp to a deeper relationship between participants and your newsroom?

For more, including how to make the case for an events strategy in your organization and whether to charge attendees money, see the highlights and replay on Gather.

Joy Mayer, Gather community manager


Lightning Chats

Lightning chats are 30-minute video chats in which we (and by that we mean anyone!) 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.

We have a series of hourlong chats featuring finalists in the first-ever ONA Gather Award for Engaged Journalism.

Yesterday’s chat featured:
  • Ashley Alvarado talking about Southern California Public Radio’s engagement work nominated under the “Portfolio” category.
  • Cara Williams Fry talking about WITF’s nominated project, “Three Mile Island Accident’s 40th Anniversary.”
Look for highlights soon on Gather and in next week’s newsletter.

Here are the next two chats:

Thursday, Sept. 5, 1:30-2:30 pm ET // Darryl Holliday will talk about City Bureau’s nominated project,, and Megan Lucero will share more about Bureau Local’s engagement work nominated under the “Portfolio” category. Join the meeting on Zoom, and find additional connection details in this calendar event.

Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2 pm-3 pm ET // Eve Samples and Leah Voss will talk about USA TODAY Florida’s nominated project, “Florida Voices,” and Lauren Katz will share more about Vox’s nominated project, “Hospitals Kept ER Fees Secret. We Worked with Patients to Uncover Them.” Join the meeting on Zoom, and find additional connection details in this calendar event.

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.

Reporter II (Early Childhood Education), Southern California Public Radio: “We're looking for a reporter excited to connect educators and caregivers of children ages 0-5 in L.A. County with academics, researchers, and policy makers. We want to reveal gaps between the two groups and shine a light on what's working and what's not. A significant portion of the early childhood education reporter's job will include building engagement into the reporting process, actively listening to our current and future audiences for story ideas, reporting leads and community expertise."

Community Updates

If you haven't joined the Gather Slack community, you're missing out on a lot of brainstorming, advice giving and collaboration. Seriously. We keep hearing from people who don’t know Gather has a Slack. Join here.
  • See you in New Orleans? We’ve started a Slack channel called #ona19 for people going to the Online News Association conference in September and for people who want to follow along on those adventures. Feel free to join! And a specific request: We’d love to put together a Gather guide to ONA. Drop a line in Slack or respond to this email with sessions you think are particularly relevant to engagement work. (Feel free to make sure a session you’re involved with is on our radar.) 
  • Comings and goings: If you are on the job market, feel free to use our Slack #jobsandfunding channel for two purposes: To peruse opportunities and to actively seek them. We welcome you to introduce yourself, link to your portfolio and say what kind of job you’re looking for. As this network grows and strengthens, let’s see what it can do, shall we?
  • Hot Read: "Incoming Harvard Freshman Deported After Visa Revoked" by Shera S. Avi-Yonah and Delano R. Franklin at The Harvard Crimson. (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 Christiaan Mader, this week's Featured Member.

Name: Christiaan Mader

What you do: Publisher/Editor of The Current, a nonprofit hyperlocal in Lafayette, La.

Why you’re on Gather: I’m new to engagement, new to running a newsroom, really just new in general. Like new-car-smell new or difficult-to-walk-in new-shoes new. Gather is a great place for “new” folks to meet new folks and talk about doing news new.

One thing you want to learn on Gather: How to weave engagement into our everyday work with a “staff” of three. (Hint: I’m the only engagement guy on staff.) I’m always looking for project ideas that we can implement locally and advice on how to make it work with limited resources.

One thing you have to share on Gather: I’m proud of our newsletter. It’s how we launched the publication, and it remains the most essential part of what we do. I’m happy to share tips on getting a shoe-string newsletter together. We’re also constantly tweaking and experimenting with our site and product concepts. If we strike gold, I’m always happy to share a good idea.

One thing about your work that gets you especially pumped up: Answering a contested question. As a reporter, my favorite role is the explainer of complicated ideas and processes.

Who or what inspired you to get into this work? As a startup, It was pretty clear to me that we had to do something differently to build community and buy-in around what we do. Engagement is a natural process for that. It differentiates who we are and enriches my work as a reporter. Even as a novice practitioner, I’m finding the approach has paid dividends in story selection and framing. It just makes for better journalism.

Would you rather have more time or more money? Time is on my side. Money can’t buy me love.

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

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