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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:

  • TRY IT OUT: The Membership Puzzle Project shared 25 ways to involve community members in journalism. What will you try in 2019?

  • CASE STUDY: Read how CALmatters used open reporting to collaborate with community members.

  • JOB ALERT: ProPublica is looking for their next Editor for Audience and Engagement.

  • HOT READ: Zuckerberg SF General Hospital's aggressive billing tactics surprise Sarah Kliff at VOX.

  • INTROS: Meet Sara Weber, Engagement Manager at the Salt Lake Tribune.

Refocusing your work on community participation


The new year often seems like a good time to start fresh. A blank calendar can make us want to clean off our desks. A new year for things like financial budgets and analytics tracking can feel like a productive time to reassess our priorities and assumptions. And ideas that didn’t take hold last time around (hey … we should exercise daily!) can feel possible again.

If the start 2019 feels like a good time to reinvigorate your work, might we suggest this question: How does your journalism involve the people you aim to serve?

The Membership Puzzle Project released a truly incredible list of ideas in December that we’ll share here again by way of inspiration: Why your community members want to aid your reporting & 25 jobs you can ask them to do.

In the report, Emily Goligoski and Stephanie Ho share what they learned about *why* community members want to get involved in journalism.

Lukas Kouwets, Momkai


Then they take each category and link to examples of how newsrooms can tap into those motivations. They also link to a checklist organized around what newsrooms need and how community members can help.

This report is actionable and practical, which makes it a productive tool for invigorating newsroom conversations and setting new priorities. Skeptical bosses will appreciate seeing the concrete examples from newsrooms that have already paved the way.

Can your community members help moderate comments, or maybe take over your Instagram? Check out newsrooms that do those things. How about collecting or tracking information? Proofreading? Helping create ethics policies? Translating stories into other languages?

So much inspiration, and a fresh new year in which to energize your newsroom around audience participation.

So, how does your journalism involve the people you aim to serve? Join the conversation on this Slack thread.

Cheers!

Joy Mayer, Gather Community Manager

How CALmatters Used Open Reporting to Collaborate With Community Members on Education Reporting


By Ben Mitchell

In early 2017, CALmatters education reporter Jessica Calefati grew frustrated while researching a piece about California school funding, after two Los Angeles area schools refused to comply with her records request. Calefati used “open reporting,” a method that gives readers insight to a reporter’s or media outlet’s newsgathering process, to enhance her main story. She wrote a first-person account of the stonewalling she encountered as well as the process she went through as she researched her larger story. The open reporting piece garnered a great deal of response from CALmatters readers, who shared their own experiences and even offered to help Calefati find out more information.

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.


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.
  • Editor for Audience and Engagement, ProPublica: "We’re hiring an editor to oversee our efforts to reach audiences and communities. Cultivating and growing our audiences is at the core of our work. You’ll be overseeing more than a half-dozen journalists, including our social team, award-winning engagement reporters and newsletter editor. And you’ll be a leading editorial voice collaborating with others at ProPublica, including our events and outreach teams." Deadline: January 13, 2019. 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.
  • How has Gather been valuable to your work? We asked some active members that question recently and got some great responses. You can find some on our landing page at letsgather.in. and we’ll feature some here as well.
     
    • As a media industry writer aiming to report on useful real-world innovations, I have found that Gather’s active community shares bright ideas and brilliant questions which often help guide my work and some lessons we at Nieman Lab share.” — Christine Schmidt, Nieman Lab
       
  • Tracking your asks: Do you reach out to people, institutions and communities asking them to share your work? If you do, how do you track or measure this strategy? Alexandra Smith wants to know, and her Gather colleagues have lots to say.
     
  • Planning ahead: Which journalism, engagement and related conferences are you planning to attend in 2019? We want to know!
     
  • Hot Read: "A $20,243 bike crash: Zuckerberg hospital’s aggressive tactics leave patients with big bills" by Sarah Kliff at VOX. (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 Sara Weber, this week's Featured Member.


Name: Sara Weber

What you do: I’m the engagement manager at The Salt Lake Tribune. I manage the paper’s website, handle social media and work to connect our reporters to our readers and the surrounding community through a number of different projects. One of my favorite parts of the job is analyzing data from our website, mobile app and social media to determine where we’ve improved and where we can do better. Basically, I love a good pivot table.

Why you’re on Gather: Being named the first engagement editor at my newspaper felt like a huge step in the right direction, but the idea of implementing engagement strategies in a legacy newsroom felt intimidating and, honestly, a bit lonely. When I found Gather, it looked like the perfect opportunity to work with — and learn from — others in similar situations. So far, that has definitely been the case. I’m thrilled to be able to dip into this community for advice and friendly interaction with so many leaders in the engagement sector.

One thing you want to learn on Gather: One of my biggest obstacles is explaining and demonstrating the importance of reader engagement. I work with a staff that’s still repairing itself after layoffs and is pretty hesitant to try new things or take on additional work. In recent weeks, Gatherers have helped me figure out better ways to show reporters the impact reader engagement can have, like looking beyond Facebook likes. I’d like to continue that conversation, as well pick others’ brains about hosting live engagement events.

One thing you have to share on Gather: I’ve been really pleased with how my “Why Utah?” Facebook group has been doing. I’ve found a lot of people in and around Salt Lake City are eager to communicate more directly with The Tribune and it’s reporters. It’s still very new, though, so I’d love to hear from other Gatherers about how they’ve grown comparable groups in their community, what worked, what didn’t, etc.

One thing about your work that gets you especially pumped up: I believe journalism is essential to a well-informed and honest community. Engaged journalism helps ensure people’s voices are heard — and it can affect real change. Few things make me happier than a nice message from a reader expressing gratitude for what we do.

Who or what inspired you to get into this work? I’ve tried everything in journalism, from reporting to copy editing to web management. Journalism is my passion, but day-to-day reporting didn’t feel as fulfilling as I had hoped. With the help of a few grad school professors and the Public Insight Network, I found my real passion was based more in connecting with a local community and helping news organizations be the best possible resource to readers.

Would you rather be at the beach or the mountains? The mountains are my happy place. Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, my family and I would always escape up to Flagstaff for a few hours if we needed a break. Now I live in Utah and only have to drive 10 minutes to be up in the mountains!

Links for ways to connect with you.
If you want to say hi, talk about ridiculous television shows (currently obsessed with Riverdale) or discuss engagement, I can be reached through:
Email: sweber@sltrib.com
Twitter: @sarapweber
Instagram: @sarapweber
Gather Slack: sara.weber
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