Read this newsletter in a separate browser window here. Missed something? Check our archives.

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:

  • INVEST HERE: The comments section can help build trust through meaningful dialogue.

  • CASE STUDY: How did KALW use Hearken to listen to listeners?

  • JOB ALERT: The LA Times seeks an audience engagement editor for their food section.

  • HOT READ: Bettina Chang reflects on what it's been like to reimagine local journalism through City Bureau.

  • INTROS: Meet Simon Galperin, Customer Success Lead at GroundSource and the Director of the Community Info Coop.

An investment in comments

Can you point to stories that arose out of reader comments? How about commenters that turned into sources? Do comments sometimes help you understand your community better? Or make you excited about your job?

Take a look at this job for a comments editor at the Washington Post. Even if you don’t work in a newsroom that invests in audience strategy to the extent that the Post does (and really, that’s most of us), you can get some inspiration from this job description and an accompanying Twitter thread from Teddy Amenabar, who’s moving on from this job to other audience initiatives at the Post.

Whether you have a newsletter dedicated to comments, can you find ways to highlight and reward the best of your comments?

How about highlighting the top stories of the year (which the Gather Slack talked about recently) through the eyes of your commenters?

I asked Teddy for his thoughts about why and how newsrooms of any size should invest in comments. Here’s part of his reply. (Read the rest on Slack.)

“The comments section simply hosts conversations about a newsroom's reporting. In that sense, it's no different from Twitter or Facebook. The key difference, in my opinion, is that we have editorial ownership of this space. We can ask the questions, we get to focus the discussions and in doing that we'll hopefully create a space that elevates our original reporting. Because, nowadays, it seems the conversation about an article is nearly as important as the article itself. Newsrooms can use these spaces as opportunities to answer questions, build trust and frankly provide an open line for people who have proven to be their most loyal readers.”

Speaking of comments, Natalie Moore asked on Slack about how comment policies help with moderation and got some good advice. Andrew Losowsky shared a link to The Coral Project’s guide to creating a code of conduct.  

Gather’s database includes a lot of examples related to comments. Here are a few. (A Gather login is needed to read this. Request one here.)

How has an investment in comments been worthwhile for you? What’s a good way to get started for newsrooms that haven’t yet made a commitment to more interesting, respectful, fruitful comments? Let me know at or weigh in here on Slack.

Joy Mayer, Gather Community Manager

How KALW's Hey Area Project Used Hearken to Listen to Listeners

By Riley Stevenson

In early 2016, San Francisco public radio station KALW started using the engagement tool Hearken to interact with its audience and create relevant stories. KALW staff collected questions about the Bay Area from listeners, asked listeners to vote on their favorite questions, and assigned winning questions to reporters to turn into feature pieces produced in partnership with the asker. The collaborative reporting project, called Hey Area, has yielded about 15 long and 15 short stories so far — all based on ideas generated by audience members. Nearly two years since its inception, the project is still running and has expanded to include partners such as Oakland Voices and the East Bay Express.

Read the case study on Gather.

You can now publicly share the 94 case studies and featured projects on Gather with friends and colleagues. Take a look through, and then recommend projects you’d like to see us dig into.

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. Here's what's coming up:

TODAY, Dec. 5, 2 pm ET // Gather welcome session: We have a consistent stream of new folks joining Gather, and the Gather staff and steering committee would like the chance to welcome you properly. Join us for an informal chat. We’ll briefly walk through the ways you can make the most of Gather, then we’ll have introductions and share ideas. We’ll toast each other with a cup of coffee (for our West Coast members), a glass of wine (for our European members) or any beverage of your choice! Anyone's welcome, no matter how long you've been a part of Gather. Join us on Zoom at 2 pm ET / 11 am PT on Dec. 5 for a 30-minute conversation. Click here to add this to your Google Calendar. 

Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2 pm ET // What does "local" mean?: How do local communities define themselves? How do news outlets define their audiences? And how do journalists know what’s important to their audiences and what niche they can fill? A recent report is a useful jumping off point for discussion of those questions. Start here: Journalism Conundrum - Perceiving Location and Geographic Space Norms and Values, then join the report's author and others for a conversation. Conversation hosts:
  • Amy Schmitz Weiss, associate professor at San Diego State University
  • Jesse Hardman, founder, Listening Post Collective
  • Madeleine Bair, founding director, El Timpano
Join us on Zoom at 2 pm ET / 11 am PT on Dec. 12 for a 30-minute conversation. Click here to 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:
  • Audience Engagement Editor (Food), LA Times: "The Los Angeles Times is looking for an audience engagement editor who is passionate and knowledgeable about the L.A. food scene to join our multi-platform editing team and to grow audience for our Food journalism. Responsibilities include managing the LA Times Food social media accounts, creating videos and photos for social media, and creating an engagement plan for the Food section." 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.

Meet Simon Galperin, this week's Featured Member.

Name: Simon Galperin

What you do: I’m the Customer Success Lead at GroundSource and the Director of the Community Info Coop! At GroundSource, I get to support change makers in newsrooms and other community-centered organizations by coaching them on our engagement tech and consulting them on their community strategy. The Community Info Coop is my side thang where I run the info districts initiative as well as a few other projects.

Why you’re on Gather: It’s a group of people who are a collective engine for change in journalism, and I’m trying to figure out how I can help people doing this work.

One thing you want to learn on Gather: I’d love to hear about folks’ personal strategies for success in their work or life. I don’t mean ways people are effectively reaching and engaging a community but what folks are doing to be happy, healthy, and successful.

One thing you have to share on Gather: I feel like many of us who are drawn to this sort of work see it as restorative. And we know that products cannot be restorative if processes aren’t. So I want to share that its okay that sometimes we don’t know where we’re going – what the product or outcome might be. Or that we’re stuck communicating the value of this work with metrics from the last century. It’s okay to be unsure of the product because we’re so sure of the power of this process.

One thing about your work that gets you especially pumped up: I’m really thankful for how much cross pollination I get to do. I feel like I get to learn from everybody for everybody and I fucking love it.

Who or what inspired you to get into this work? I wanted to be a foreign correspondent. I traveled abroad as an undergrad to study peace and conflict, Arabic, and wildlife ecology. I ran outdoor education trips. I was an EMT. All in preparation for what I thought I wanted to do after college: stand in front of a camera near a war zone in khakis and a black polo, reporting on the latest humanitarian crisis. I’m really thankful that plan didn’t work out.

I really think I’m in this work because of the people and community that raised me. I'm an immigrant that had great public schools for the entirety of my education and a relatively steady two-parent household (plus a live-in grandma!). My very first journalism professor at Rutgers University was Robert Montemayor, who won a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1984 for reporting that challenged negative public narratives about Latinos in Southern California. He taught me that journalism is about making power accountable no matter what power wants.

Other professors taught me more about wealth, power, media, and colonialism. I launched a hyperlocal as an undergrad to challenge the legacy student paper. After Rutgers, I did some contract work before attending the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism’s social journalism program, where I had every opportunity I could have imagined.

Along the way I racked up six figures worth of student debt, which played a huge role in leading me towards this sort of collectivist work.

Would you rather talk about something personal or listen to something personal? I’d rather talk about something personal because listening is hard to do.

Links for ways to connect with you.
Tweets: @thensim0nsaid
Was this email forwarded to you?
Sign up to get Gather's newsletter delivered to your inbox each week.

Contact Us:

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Agora Journalism Center · 70 NW Couch Street · White Stag Block, Floor 3R · Portland, OR 97209 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp