What is engagement?

There were 17 people present, most of whom are referenced somewhere in the notes below.

We began with a quick round of introductions, in which each member of the group characterized their perspective on engagement–what follows here are some of the highlights…
Josh S said he comes from a perspective of being interested community organizing and what it can do for for journalis?
Kelly–pointed out that in our vernacular, Engagement is a promise to be in a relationship with another person…
Laura asked, what does the community mean by it? what do they want to do?
Mike Fancher said Innovation in J has been around the old (business) model, and he’s interested in seeing it center around a new model.
Rita said that E Varies from person to person and there is a range of engagement, from watching the news to acting in the world
Dan Petty said, “it’s a question I ask myself every day,” and he worried the word has lost its meaning…
Christof spoke of his interest in the link b/w environmentalism and engagement…
And Ted said he prefers the word “involvement.”

We then began to pursue three essential questions, only two of which we managed to answer.
Question: How do we engage?
Q: Why do we engage? Why should we engage?
Q: How do we measure it?

Ted began by coming back to Kelly’s notion, that there is a commitment involved–we will do this together. It levels the playing field b/w Js and public
Marla–involvement is the most useful for me. At the NCDD, she said, E centers on dialogue, and there are four categories:
-Explore a topic,
-Deal with conflict,
-Decision making (rather than the “decide and defend” model), and
-Collaborative action.

Jill pulled the conversation back to the beginning, asking, “Do we share this assumption that we are already engaged by writing a story?” Which ended up with consensus that yes, we do share that assumption, but there are multiple entry points to engagement and it is a driver of ongoing relationships with communities.

So WHY engage?
Before diving into the why question, Kelly M. noted how important transparency is: E makes audience more valuable to advertisers. Sometimes it builds our relationships, and where I hope we get to is that that’s how we build community, so we have to be really transparent when we ask ppl to engage with us.

Marla reminded the group of the role civic J has always played in strengthening democracy, and political J has been disconnected from that…In her former role at Texcas pubcaster, they would connect citizen concerns, talk to them, hold forums, recorded them, put them on the air–hold accountable candidates to answer citizen questions–engagement bloomed as a democratic exercise…. Various experiments

Mike F. Why do ppl engage with J or school district–giving them the information isn’t the mission any more–participating with them is the mission.
Marla–ppl engage bc they want to tell their story, they want to figure things out; they want to share stories–they’ve lost trust in gov’t…
Margie T. Feminist, collaborative style of doing journalism–
Jill–Question of authority…Big J was rarified…it’s so much more reachable and tangible…Media literacy is so important in this…
David… let’s not lose sight of the ppl who get engaged bc they suddenly have an interest in govt…multiply that interest…
Dan–Is the desire to engage the same desire that drives our work as journalists?

Josh S: TRUST. bring communities in before during and after publication of story– that’s a way to build trust…
Kelly–trust gets built in a new way in this new ecosystem… relationships instead of authority…
Ted–is the flip side–we are more convinced of our own opinions…
Marla–Harwood–trus
Josh–trust in personal networks

So, then, Why engage? To build community and build trust in the community.

Christoff helped us turn our attention to the What is engagement? question, and its cousin, How are we engaging people?

Peggy noted that at Lawrence Journal World, under Jane Ellen Stevens, they created a site that wasthe go-to place for health information in Lawrence–started with the community. Half the content would come from Journalists, and half would come from the community. WellCommons.com. Rather than built around topics, they built around group. Businesses pay to participate, individuals get free access. Changed the way reporters approached their work bc the stories they pursue are informed by sharing space. (this could be a great model for ideastream)

Ted asked, is this a New form of beat reporting?
One of the Mike’s noted it’s definitely a new relationship with authority…

Josh wondered about these models and whose responsibility is it to engage? When is it our responsibility to go out and engage the ppl who aren’t engaged?

Laura–it’s not hard to imagine ways that aren’t similar to recent forms…But What’s the continuing engagement?

Ted–engagement in shaping and creating– and engagement that moves beyond…

Laura–there might even be three–what does it become?

Marla–community of churches paired up–exchanged congregants–talked about race–kept the conversation going…

Dan– Editorial boards becoming engagement boards….

Christoff–but what do we mean by “the community?”

Kelly–communities, not Community.

Peggy– it needn’t be neat and tidy…what if the meeting just happened the first monday of every month, and if you want to be a part of it, you show up…story from Tacoma washington, Af-Am community…

Margie–its our responsibility to be intentional about recruiting diversity

Kelly–you’re never there. Every community is fluid.

Josh–2 resources–CW anderson talks about publics, Rebuilding the News… a piece on Nieman Lab. Missed opportunities

David G. Resources for reaching out–Nonprofits have a great eagerness to help w outreach.

Jill–from the meta perspective–this has an opportunity to

Mike–community engagement should be a part of the community,,,

How do you measure it? CIRCLE at Tufts. RJI, Joy Mayer has resources.

A couple of important links:
Josh Stearns mentioned this piece about what endorsements should do:
http://stearns.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/the-missed-opportunity-of-newspaper-endorsements/#more-1125

Dan Moulthrop wrote this piece reflecting on the session:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-moulthrop/engagement-can-save-journ_b_3022257.html