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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 UPDATE: As we continue to reflect on a recent ethics of engagement gathering, here are some questions for planning and reflection. 

  • JOB ALERT: Where.By.Us is hiring two Engagement Contractors, one in Pittsburgh and one in Seattle.

  • HOT READ: Go on a journey with a reporter-turned-deliveryman (for a day).

  • INTROS: Meet Jodi Gersh, former VP of Audience Development & Engagement at PRI (and currently available for hire)

Ethical questions for engagement work

A few weeks ago, twenty-plus engagement practitioners and thinkers gathered at the home of the Agora Journalism Center to collaboratively explore the ethical principles that guide engagement work, and the ethical tensions that engaged journalists sometimes encounter.

Although the gathering was far from the last word on the ethics of engagement, we gained critical insights from the collective experience and wisdom of that group. Mindful of the limitations of this single gathering, we’d like to share with you some questions engaged journalism practitioners can ask as they launch their work.

Read more on Medium.

— Regina Lawrence, Director of the Agora Journalism Center; Andrew DeVigal, Gather Executive Director

NOTE FROM GATHER: Have you taken our user survey yet? If not, we sure hope you can spare 10 minutes between now and the end of the day on Monday, July 29. Thank you!

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.

Apply to one of two Engagement Contractor positions at Where.By.Us: "You’ll be working with our local brand The Incline (Pittsburgh) or The Evergrey (Seattle) to help us grow our membership program and newsletter subscribers by producing and coordinating membership offerings, partnerships, and events content, while creating a delightful experience for our communities." Pittsburgh job | Seattle job. Deadline: August 4, 2019.

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.
  • Engagement basics: Journalism student Sophie Feinberg asked our community about how to get started in the field of engagement. Read the advice offered to her, and add your own on Slack
  • REMINDER: New #PaidAcquisition channel: Two participants in the Gather community -- Alexandra Smith and Phillip Smith (no relation, oddly) -- are taking the lead on a new Slack channel for people who spend their time on direct response and paid acquisition campaigns for news organizations. The objective is to create a space for people of all levels of experience to share and learn. If this speaks to you, please join Alexandra and Phillip in #PaidAcquisition and introduce yourself.
  • Hot Read:My Frantic Life as a Cab-Dodging, Tip-Chasing Food App Deliveryman," by Andy Newman at The New York Times. (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 Jodi Gersh, this week's Featured Member.

Name: Jodi Gersh

What you do: In short, I help businesses, news orgs and non-profits think differently about audiences and engagement. I am also super passionate about working on ways to support journalism, press freedom and our democracy. I am currently in between jobs. I left my role as VP of Audience Development & Engagement at Public Radio International (PRI) about a month ago.

Why you're on Gather: I was introduced to Gather at an engagement conference in Portland and instantly felt like I’d found my people. I love hearing about all the exciting things people are working on in the space, and seeing how people help and support each other in this community. When I started in social media, in 2008, it was harder to find the kind of community you all have built on Gather. It is awesome to see it every day on Slack and on the website.

One thing you want to learn on Gather: I would like to learn about strong examples of engagement projects that have real impact, whether changing laws, changing lives or making money. It is still a challenge to explain to executives/decision makers what real engagement is and why news orgs should invest real resources (time, people, money) into it.

One thing you have to share on Gather: I worked on a research project where we took the science behind how companies like Cambridge Analytica segment and target people and built a model for creating audience targets based on psychographic and behavioral values, rather than demographics. Our goal was to put truthful journalism in front of audiences and position it so they would be most open to it and engage with it. This was an almost 2-year project with grants from NII and others (raised close to $1M). We did a proof of concept that I would love to share. I am working on a case study now.

One thing about your work that gets you especially pumped up: Making connections. It is cliché for sure, but if I may quote a description we wrote for an engagement training program I helped create at Gannett, bringing together problems and solutions, especially in small, everyday ways, creates value for our readers (audiences/community) that can't be found anywhere else. It's also an act of journalism, whether or not it results in a story.

Who or what inspired you to get into this work? In 2004 or 2005 I was helping someone who just launched a social network (this was around the same time MySpace was popular). I was utilizing my degree in sociology to study the behavior of people using this network. I was fascinated with Lyle, who shared pictures of his lunch everyday (Lyle's Lunch became very popular), but also started to see how people that had problems would ask for help from basically strangers (friends of friends) and other people would offer solutions. This led to me creating the first social media manager position at Gannett corporate in 2008/9. I knew that local newspapers should be part of that equation and that social media was going to greatly impact our business.

Would you rather watch a movie, read a book, or listen to a podcast? Movie. I wish I could read more books, but I actually almost always fall asleep when I am reading for more than 45 minutes… it's a real problem.

Ways to connect with you: 
You can find me everywhere (LI, FB, TW, web…) using "jodiontheweb".  I am also available for short term/long term gigs - hit me up at

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Agora Journalism Center · 70 NW Couch Street · White Stag Block, Floor 3R · Portland, OR 97209 · USA

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