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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:

  • GATHER SURVEY: 91 of you filled out our survey. Here's the first of many reflections.

  • ETHICS: Share your engagement ethical dilemmas for possible discussion.

  • FUNDING ALERT: Submit your project to The Current's "Local That Works" Contest!

  • HOT READ: Parents are giving up custody of their kids to get college financial aid.

  • INTROS: Meet Zac Davis, associate editor for digital strategy at America magazine.

Gather members, here’s what you do for each other

Thank you to the 91 of you who filled out our user survey. The feedback you shared will help shape our future. We look forward to diving into the results and letting you know what we learned and how we plan to use the insights. 

Today, I want to share a few themes from the question: In what way(s) is Gather most useful to you?

Many of you told us that Gather helps turn a solo, sometimes lonely job into a collaborative endeavor. 

“Knowing other people interested in audience engagement has been hugely helpful. I work remote and am the only person in engagement, so this community is invaluable."

“I'm isolated as a both a startup journalist and a novice engagement practitioner. It's really helpful to have someone to turn to when I have broad or green questions to ask.”

“It feels like a support group and gives me ideas. I'm also part of an accountability group of four people who talk off Gather once a month.”

Some folks wrote about how Gather helps them at the beginning of their engagement journeys ...

“Gather helps me gain an awareness about what's going on in a field I hope to be a part of and see what steps I might take to attain experience in engagement.”

... and others wrote from a position of experience (and maybe hiring?).

“Keeping my ear out for leaders in the space and great work in the space.”

“Editorial inspiration and guidance as one of the more knowledgeable members of my team.”

You clearly help keep each other up to date on trends and best practices. 

“Networking with others throughout the industry, keeping up to date on industry trends, and learning about issues facing organizations of all sizes, demographics and locations.”

“Information! There's so much out there, but it's a trusted space where I know if someone is talking it there, it's important.”

Some of you feel like Gather plays a key role in an important evolution in journalism.

“Gather is my favorite and most valuable community in my life right now. I feel appreciated, inspired and part of something bigger than myself.”

“It's useful in so many ways but the most important to me is the sense of connection with others and the awareness of the many cool projects and successes happening in so many communities. Gather helps me feel part of a movement.”

I’ll repeat that one, just for emphasis: “Gather helps me feel part of a movement.” The credit for that goes to all of you. Thank you. 

Watch this space for more insights (not just pats on the back!) from the user survey. And while we’ve stopped seeking survey responses, we welcome your feedback anytime. Does what you see here match your experience? If not, how could Gather serve you better? Contact me anytime.

— Joy Mayer, Gather community manager,

Ethics: Submit your situation

As the Gather team considers how to be a resource on the unique ethical challenges involved in engagement work, we’d love to hear from this community about ethical situations you’ve faced.

We’d like to build upon an idea that emerged from the recent Ethics of Engagement gathering: to create a series of conversations on Gather that will feature real-life ethical decisions and dilemmas, submitted by members of the Gather community.

If you would like to offer your own real-life case study for discussion, or if you have suggestions of people we should be sure to include in these conversations, please submit your ethical engagement dilemma here.

Taking a Pause on Case Studies

Since Gather's beginning in October 2017, we have collected nearly 100 case studies and featured projects diving into best practices and lessons learned from specific engagement projects.

We are pausing this section of the newsletter as we work through a backlog of case studies (many thanks to the CUNY Social Journalism and UOregon Multimedia Journalism masters' students!). In the meantime, check out our archive and recommend projects you'd like to see us dig into.


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.

Here's what's coming up:
  • Aug. 22, 2-2:30 pm ET // Why would someone come to your event? Before hosting an event, ask what your community will get out of it. This chat will focus on how to design an event with your potential participants in mind. Join hosts Tiney Ricciardi of the Dallas Morning News and Kristin Walters of Illinois Newsroom. Join us on Zoom 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.

Submit your project to the "Local That Works” Contest: “LOCAL THAT WORKS aims to spotlight original initiatives that help local media organizations “Be More Local” through innovative content, fundraising, digital presence, or community engagement. We accept entries from public stations and non-profit news organizations. We are particularly interested in projects that can be replicated or successfully scaled in smaller markets and rural areas. Organizations can submit multiple entries and there’s no cost or requirement to enter.” The Grand Prize is $5000. Second prize is $1000. Deadline: Wednesday, August 7 at 7:00pm ET.

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.

Meet Zac Davis, this week's Featured Member.

Name: Zac Davis

What you do: I’m an associate editor for digital strategy at America magazine, a national Jesuit media company. We’re a pretty small team, so that means I help with social media, newsletters, web design and development, in addition to creating and editing original content. I also host a podcast aimed at young adult Catholics called Jesuitical

Why you’re on Gather: There are so many cool things happening in audience engagement now, and so many smart people who are mapping out uncharted territories, filling in job descriptions where there were none. I love the community and everyone’s willingness to share best (and worst!) practices. 

One thing you want to learn on Gather: I’m curious about engaging audiences as a way to build habits. How do we make the conversations between our publications and readers a consistent, sure thing? 

One thing you have to share on Gather: Like a lot of us, I’m working on a small audience team. We’re not so much a team as much as it’s just one of the many aspects of what I do. But I’m in a supportive newsroom which allows us some flexibility to try out new things quickly and adapt if they aren’t working. 

Who or what inspired you to get into this work? Realizing that audience engagement is vital for the future of journalism. 

Would you rather work in chaos or quiet? As the newsroom extrovert and social captain, I would definitely opt for chaos.     

Links for ways to connect with you.
Twitter: @zacdayvis
Gather Slack: @Zac Davis 
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