“We sometimes talk around it, we may disguise it beneath objectivity, but what we do as journalists is use our power to influence and change society – for better or worse.” - Darryl Holliday, City Bureau
News organisations are re-evaluating the value they bring to a world that is hyper-connected and overwhelmed with information. As they do so, the concept of engaged journalism, the kind of reporting that powers the conversations of a clearly defined community, is gaining traction.
There are questions for news organisations to answer as part of this shift: who really is your community and what do they care about? How do you help them to live their lives better? And what power do they have to influence decisions about which stories are published and how they are told?
It is this idea of power that forms the central theme of our new report, Stronger journalism through shared power, which explores new, more equitable power dynamics between news organisations and the communities they are serving.
The report builds on discussions from a workshop titled ‘Building power for more informed communities’, hosted by the Accelerator in Birmingham last March. The gathering brought together 47 practitioners of engaged journalism from 10 European countries, and together, we tackled the idea of building power from three perspectives:
- how members of the Accelerator community are building power in their own work engaging their users
- how they are building power within their organisations to make engagement integral to their work
- how we are building power as a community of practice to create and sustain a culture of engagement and collaboration within the field.
The convening was facilitated by consultant and engagement specialist Fiona Morgan, who has also authored this report. She has skilfully distilled the conversations and sessions from the workshop into 18 tips for how to build power with your community. These include:
- Provide training as a way to offer something of value to those who contribute their time and expertise
- Know when the first-person story will be more effective than the journalist’s report on that person
- When moving on from an investigation, make sure the materials stories are archived online and offline, and the archives are well organised, and accessible for people with different needs