Beyond the “E” Word – Defining the language of engagement

Friday 10:30am group:

Session Hosts:
Ashley Alvarado
Amber Rivera

Reporter/Note taker:
Meghann Farnsworth

Participants (sorry for butchered names! hard to read some of them)
Joellen Green
Susan Gleason
Jesikah Maria Ross
Thomas Schmiolt
Caitlin Moran
Rachel Damgen
Michal Wilder
Vanessa Vancouver

We all put words on the page about what we considered Engagement to be.

When I say engagement I mean . . .
When I talked to groups outside the newsroom I mean . .. . .
When I talk to my newsroom I mean .. .

Diversity of language and who is in the newsroom
Sustainability both as a financial issue and also as an ongoing conversation
Metrics/impact: How do we better understand what has been done and what we’re trying to do

Engagement is about making a certain kind of connections. You are valuing people and having a two-way conversation. It’s authentic.

What do you have to give up as a journalist up in order to have a true authentic engagement.

Letting people know we know who they are. Giving them tickets to something that we know they would enjoy.


Breaking up who we’re actually trying to engage — – donors versus newsroom versus particular sections of the newsroom .

Community: Existing and potential
Social change movements
Community of interest
Policy makers
Millientials/ Different Generations
Blind Spot audience

Content creation
Quality of dialogue
Behavior of change – attitude/action
In person . .. events, conversation
Social media/digital/on-air

Social capital
Content generation
To create dialogue
Funders want to know
Mobilize action – model for other communities
Create new members
Social change goals
Be a centering institution, public space
Improving our journalism
Human connection
*Illustrating our value


As for someone who researches engagement:
Those aspects of audience interaction with media that go beyond exposure in ways that represent meaningful social outcomes.

From the a young person (Millennial):
About a mutual kind of exchange of value. News is valuing what I have to say and they care about what I am saying. And it’s something that you’re actually interested in.

To the newsroom:
I take our reporting into the community to make it more meaningful.

Finding the story that a community needs and giving it to them in the space that they already at. The right story at the right time at the right place for the right people.

To a journalist:
How to be more relevant, how to keep revenue up, get people to care more about your reporting.

More explanatory journalism. How we got there versus making it more source based and easier to digest. Making it more accessible in how the story is even produced without being condescending.

Education lab:
The story was the starting point. Engagement is keeping the story going, the tail going.

Magazine – Internally to the newsroom:
Engagement is recognizing and inviting the collective smarts and wisdom of our readership/audience. And realizing that we are not the holders of the solutions but that they are coming from the communities.

I am helping my client find and be able to speak to its audience.

Engagement is a way to infuse journalism with community conversation at the start and ensure that there is an audience for your work before it actually comes out.

Engagement involves going to the preferred physical space or platform and language of the community who is most affected by the issue that you cover. It allows for a more meaningful relationships so that you are creating that between the community and the newsroom. I am not a fan of the voice to the voiceless, giving a platform to the voices that are not heard. So that your authentically responsibility and respectfully sharing their stories and their needs. It is not poverty porn. Not swooping in and out.

How do you fact check communities about what is going on? What is the difference between a community as a whole and an individual?

About Meghann Farnsworth

Managing Director, Distribution, Operations, & Engagement @Reveal @CIRonline. 1/2 of Gifyourlife: Formerly @NewsHour @HomeFrontDC
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  1. Pingback: BREAK OUT: Nine people imagine how a 20K-circ. daily might use tools and practices for better engagement | Elevate Engagement Session Notes

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