What does it take to engage your community?

Editors, journalists, and others are recommending the resources below in answer to that question.

What is community engagement?

About Engagement | National Center for Media Engagement — Explains key differences between “engagement” and “outreach.” Brought to you by the Center for Media Engagment, which led public media’s evolution toward community engagement for 10 years from 2003-2013.

Engaging Communities: Content and Conversation — Joy Mayer explains more about what engagement is and examples that make it work.

What does “engagement” really mean? | RJI — Joy Mayer provides clearer definition on the topic of engagement, which she researched at the Reynolds Journalism Institute during her 2010-2011 fellowship.

Why do it?

Is Journalism Interested in Resolution, or Only in Conflict? — Makes a compelling, researched case for journalism’s contribution for resolving conflict and not just reporting on it.

Tracing the links between civic engagement and the revival of local journalism — Dan Kennedy, professor at Northeastern University creates a case that the public as it stands currently isn’t enough for journalism. This article introduces research from his book “The Wired City” that the public first has to be created, nurtured, and given a voice.

How do you do it?

The best ways to build audience and relevance by listening to and engaging your community – Mónica Guzmán’s report published by the American Press Institute and written for publishers and journalists who want to be strategic about engaging their audiences to make their work more relevant and sustainable.

Solutions Journalism Network — Solutions journalism is a reporting model that investigates and explains credible responses to social problems. SJN is a non-profit organization.

Public Insight Network — Public Insight Network provides a vast repository of community expertise for journalists.

Fixes – Opinionator – — Fixes explores solutions to major social problems. Each week, it examines creative initiatives that can tell us about the difference between success and failure. It is written by David Bornstein, author of “How to Change the World,” and co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network, and Tina Rosenberg, contributing writer for The New York Times magazine and author of “Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World.”

Storytelling Tips | The Moth — The Moth is an acclaimed not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. Since its launch in 1997, The Moth has presented thousands of stories, told live and without notes, to standing-room-only crowds worldwide. This short guide offers some key tips on keeping your audience engaged using nothing but your own voice.

A new explanatory journalism can be built on a strong foundation | Poynter. — Roy Peter Clark writes about the allure and principles of explanatory journalism.

Why the Future of Journalism Is in the Story of Solutions — YES! Magazine explains more about “Solutions Journalism” which they have been practicing for about 20 years.

A new kind of activist journalism: When finding solutions are part of journalists’ job, too » Nieman Journalism Lab — Jan Schaeffer of J-Lab writes on solutions journalism as a more welcoming evolution from the taboo of advocacy journalism. She sites “soft-advocacy” examples such as the is partnernship with WNYC to map widely disparate costs of mammograms in the New York region, PlanPhilly’s spotlight and policy work on delinquent property taxes in Philadelphia, Catalyst Chicago’s success on improving attendance at the city’s pre-school programs via series of public forums, and’s community work to improve the the South 2nd Street streetscape.

Civic engagement handout – Kettering Foundation — A quick primer and framework on approaches to solving public problems. Put together by the Kettering Foundation, which has worked since 1927 to answer the question: What does it take for democracy to work as it should?

Public Agenda — Public Agenda is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps diverse leaders and citizens navigate divisive, complex issues and work together to find solutions.

Face to Face Engagement Practices

Gather: The Art and Science of Effective Convening : The Rockefeller Foundation — This guidebook is the result of a two year partnership between the Rockefeller Foundation and the Monitor Institute. It is designed to help organizations make decisions that will: Determine whether or not to host a convening; Clarify a purpose for the convening that shapes all other decisions; Build an effective team; Curate an experience; Ensure follow through for impact.

The Appreciative Inquiry Commons — The “AI Commons” is a worldwide portal devoted to the fullest sharing of academic resources and practical tools on Appreciative Inquiry and the rapidly growing discipline of positive change.

The World Café — The World Cafe method is a social technology that is drawn from seven integrated design principles to build effective convening. 1) Set the Context 2) Create Hospitable Space 3) Explore Questions that Matter 4) Encourage Everyone’s Contribution 5) Connect Diverse Perspectives 6) Listen together for Patterns and Insights 7) Share Collective Discoveries.

Open Space Technology — Open Space Technology is an “unconference” facilitation framework that supports a diverse, even conflicted group to self-organize around what’s important to them.

How do you assess impact?

Better Evaluation — Better Evaluation is a web resource designed to assist organizations in planning and performing evaluations on their work. A good place to start your journey if you are trying to measure the results of an engagement campaign.

Measuring Community Engagement: A Case Study from Chicago Public Media | RJI — Breeze Richardson, Director of strategic partnerships at Chicago Public Media, explains the five new metrics she developed for WBEZ Chicago.

Engaging Audiences: Measuring Interactions, Engagement and Conversions [Report] — This report by Jan Schaffer and Erin Polgreen of J-Lab at American University’s School of Communication was the result of a survey taken by 278 “digital-first” news startups between Feb. 7 and March 2, 2012. Nearly eight in 10 respondents to a national online survey said they could not measure whether their audience-engagement strategies were also converting readers into advertisers, donors, content contributors or volunteers.

Confusion Online: Faulty Metrics & the Future of Digital Journalism [Report] — A report published in 2010 by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. It explores the industry of online metrics and delves into common myths, mistakes, and insights.

A resource for newsrooms: Measuring the success of audience engagement efforts [Report] — Great resources and insight into measuring community engagement

How do you build momentum and scale?

Bright Spots in Community Engagement [Report] — A partnership between the Knight Foundation and the National League of Cities from 2011 which explored community engagement pilots in Austin, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia.

Scope, Scale, and Sustainability: What It Takes to Create Lasting Community Change [Report] — Authors Tina Trent and David Chavis examined eleven comprehensive community initiatives for the Annie E. Casey Foundation to identify lessons that contribute to success: use a systems- and community-change framework; choose focused and affordable strategies; learn to use data; prepare for change and conflict.


Education Lab — Education Lab is the product of a year-long partnership between the Solutions Journalism Network and The Seattle Times that applies the solutions journalism approach to coverage of public education in the Pacific Northwest.

California Watch tests new way to engage readers with lead-jewelry project — California Watch produced a story on lead threats in jewelery and followed up by hosting their own lead screening events for the public.

Beyond Books – What’s possible when librarians and journalists meet? [Video] — Exploring new possibilities when two groups come together with a common interest of enriching the community information commons.

Oakland Voices – The Oakland Tribune’s Community Media Project — Providing a place for generally untapped voices to tell their stories.

We Create Here — Improving relations in Iowa communities — As part of their continued coverage of diversity, We Create Here hosted a conversation Wednesday morning among six community members who are proponents of diversity who represent Iowa communities. This article outlines the six greatest takeaways shared by the group.

Unite Rochester — An initiative of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle designed to raise awareness about race and racism, and inspire a more inclusive and creative approach to solving community problems.

Axiom News — Axiom News provides community engagement and grassroots news narratives to the growing worldwide community of businesses and organizations contributing to the current social-economic transition. Their work is an application of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) — a strengths-based, capacity-building, collaborative approach designed to propel organizations toward their highest potential.


Diversity Toolbox | Society of Professional Journalists — The Society of Professional Journalists’ Diversity toolbox offers essays and links to resources for journalists who wish to broaden the range of perspectives and voices in their work.

Rainbow Diversity Sourcebook — A database of common news topics to find qualified experts contributed by journalists to broaden sourcing beyond the narrow demographic band usually found in the news.

Minority Reports  — Stories on race curated by Columbia Journalism Review.