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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:

  • ETHICS QUESTION: When can journalists publish what people say in callouts?

  • JOB ALERT: The Seattle Times is looking for an Engagement Editor for the Ed Lab.

  • HOT READ: "The media’s by-the-numbers coverage of gun massacres must change" at The Washington Post.

  • INTROS: Meet Katie Fleeman, audience engagement editor at Knowable Magazine.

When people respond to callouts, can you always publish their answers?

Life used to be so simple. When someone was talking to a journalist, they typically knew that what they said might be made public. 

But think of all the ways we ask our communities questions these days. The average person isn’t quick to understand that when they respond to a social media post, they might be speaking to the whole world. (I’m guessing a large percentage of you have answered a “but I didn’t know my tweet was public” complaint from an audience member.) What obligation do journalists have to take into account that lack of knowledge? And when we ask people to share detailed and sometimes sensitive information about their own experiences, how are they to know what will happen next?

One best practice is to make it clear in the callout what you’ll do with the responses. Whether using a structured form or just a Facebook post, indicate how people’s words will be used. If submission is private (like a website form), indicate whether journalists will contact the submitter before publishing and whether all information (like contact info and full names) will be included. If submission is public, indicate whether you’ll check before sharing responses outside that thread. 

But here’s the thing … in that paragraph, I just basically laid out my understanding of what folks try to do. As far as I know, most of us operate without written guidelines for ethical issues like this. To an extent, we’re flying blind. 

And here’s another thing … even though I’ve been doing this for almost a decade, I messed it up last month. The Gather user survey didn’t indicate what we’d do with your responses. So when I was putting together last week’s newsletter, I realized I would need to seek permission if I wanted to directly quote from what you all wrote. I decided it would be within the spirit of the project to quote anonymously. But I made my life difficult by not properly thinking ahead. I also risked disrespecting you and your privacy. 

Ethics is a big word, and it can be a lot to chew on. Basically, we’re looking at standards of behavior and moral principles that come up in engagement work. The Society of Professional Journalists has a Code of Ethics that covers a lot of territory and serves the industry well. But engagement work isn’t fully reflected there.

We’re talking about ethics a lot around Gather lately, and we’re hoping to create a series of conversations that feature real-life engagement decisions and dilemmas, submitted by you. Where could you use guidance making decisions about what’s right? Submit your dilemma here.  

Hearing from you will help us support this community. And if you have written guidelines (on callouts or other practices) that you’d be willing to share with us, please respond to this email or contact me below.

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.

Here's what's coming up:
  • NEW! Thursday, Aug. 15, 1-1:30 ET // Engagement workflow. What are the biggest challenges specific to engagement work — both for internal communication on an engagement team and for communication with the rest of the organization? What about engagement work and about audience + community relationships and interactions most need to be communicated?  What tools and strategies are helpful? Join veteran leaders and engagers Kim Bui and Emma Carew Grovum. Click here to add this to your Google Calendar.
  • 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.

Apply to be the Engagement Editor (Ed Lab) at The Seattle Times: “We’re looking for an experienced Engagement Editor who can lead our education team’s award-winning effort to spark and nurture constructive conversation in Washington state, and seek out community voices to improve our journalism and expand our audience. If you’re passionate about making newspapers more inclusive and better connected to their communities, this might be your next step."

Note: There are a ton of good jobs this week! Check out our full list of jobs on Gather and visit the #jobsandfunding Slack channel to see what positions our community is sharing.


Engagement event discount for Gather folks

Hearken and Gather are pleased to announce a special deal for Hearken's inaugural Engagement Innovation Summit, being held Oct. 23-24 in Brooklyn. This summit will have dedicated tracks on what journalists can learn about engagement from other disciplines, and how your work can contribute to a better informed and active electorate for the upcoming elections. Use the code GATHER when you register by Aug. 31 to receive 10% off the early bird price. Register here


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 Katie Fleeman, this week's Featured Member.

Name: Katie Fleeman

What you do: I'm the audience engagement editor at Knowable Magazine, a Palo Alto-based digital publication covering science and research. I'm also one of the organizers for ONA Silicon Valley, which serves the south part of the Bay Area (San Jose, South Bay and the Peninsula).

Why you’re on Gather: It's one of the best ways to learn from my peers and professional heroes. A lot of the other resources out there for social media engagement, newsletter production, community building and marketing don't understand the specific context of working in journalism. But when I turn to Gather, I know that editorial best practices will provide the foundation of all resources and advice.

One thing you want to learn on Gather: I would love to learn more about how people are implementing audience engagement strategies for journalism that's topic-driven, rather than geographic. How are you identifying and defining "community" when that community could exist anywhere in the world?

One thing you have to share on Gather: Never append UTMs to internal links if you're using Google Analytics! It will trigger a new session, artificially inflate your visits metrics and mess with all of your analytics. Please, I beg. This is a public service announcement. (Did you know that UTM stands for Urchin Traffic Monitor? My "What are UTMs" slide includes using a picture of Oliver Twist as a visual aid.) Additionally, I am quite fond of spreadsheets and genuinely enjoy helping people solve their Excel woes, so always feel free to ask.

One thing about your work that gets you especially pumped up: I'm going to cheat and list three things, although there's certainly more! First, when an article gets traction on Reddit, either because a moderator allows me to post our story there, or because it resonated within that niche community. Secondly, when someone reaches out to us to ask about republishing or syndicating one of our articles. And thirdly, when an ONA Local event happens and people show up. The rush hour traffic is horrendous in this region, so it's validating to know that we've put together something that will draw our community out on a weekday night when the Google Maps is a solid red line.

Who or what inspired you to get into this work? It's really corny, but probably my dad. He's a journalist, so growing up I was never far from the news.

Would you rather work in chaos or quiet? I enjoy a white noise form of chaos. I love working at coffee shops, where there's just enough chatter to tune it out, but plenty of opportunity to tune back in when there's a particularly juicy conversation nearby.

Links for ways to connect with you.
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