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Oct. 2, 2017, 9 a.m.
Audience & Social
LINK: medium.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   October 2, 2017

Engagement journalism means reaching out to audiences in new ways — through social media, community events, and various other methods of building trust — to get them more involved in reporting. It’s something that lots of newsrooms want to do, but some are further along than others. So how can they learn from each other?

That’s the idea behind Gather, which was announced in February and launched on Monday. Official description:

Gather is a project + platform to support community-minded journalists and other engagement professionals. The mission: make journalism more responsive to the public’s needs and more inclusive of the public’s voices and diversity, by helping journalists, educators, and students who share these values find each other, find resources and best practices, and find support and mentorship.

“I’ve watched other areas of journalism grow up and get the infrastructure to support a specialty,” said Joy Mayer, a community engagement strategist and the community manager for Gather. “I’ve been working in engagement for a long time now, and it feels like this specialty and focus are really ready for more infrastructure to support best practices, growth, and connections.”

Gather — which you can sign up to join here — will consist of a number of different parts: A website with resources, best practices, and case studies,
Facebook group, Medium posts, and monthly 30-minute “lightning chats” that anyone can join via video. The community will focus on a specific topic each month; up first in October: “Facebook groups in journalism. Who? When? Why? How?”

“We often get asked — aren’t people already finding each other on Facebook groups?” said Andrew DeVigal, project executive director and chair in journalism and civic engagement at Agora Journalism Center at University of Oregon’s School of Journalism & Communication. “We’re not trying to repeat what already works on platforms like Facebook and Slack. But we also want to disrupt the notion that is echoed on these stream-of-consciousness platforms like Facebook, that whatever’s the latest is always the best. We want to be able to honor the work that’s in the past, too, and give people the opportunity to find it. That’s critical and will make this platform even more powerful.” It’s why case studies will be such a big part of Gather: “We want to emphasize the building blocks that make these kind of engagements work.”

Gather is led by the Agora Journalism Center; funders include the Knight Foundation (which is also a funder of Nieman Lab) and the Democracy Fund. Request an invite here.

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