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The Listening Post Collective’s low-tech approach to understanding information needs

In the summer of 2017, the Listening Post Collective conducted an Information Ecosystem Assessment in Omaha to get an understanding of information flow and map opportunities that may improve access to information and news coverage.

In the summer of 2017, the Listening Post Collective mapped existing media and the information ecosystem in north Omaha by conducting an Information Ecosystem Assessment.

They set out to answer four questions:

  • Are people in north Omaha getting a steady flow of news and information that’s relevant to their community?
  • Are people, institutions and issues in north Omaha being covered in a holistic, in-depth way by local media?
  • What are the different ways people in north Omaha get and share information on a regular basis?
  • What are the topics and issues that people in north Omaha would most like to hear more about?

Listening Post Collective staffers Jesse Hardman and Burgess Brown spent four days in the majority African American neighborhood, speaking with news outlets, residents and community leaders about information needs. They also studied the ways in which information is created and shared in the neighborhood, and how local media portray residents and the area.

By mapping the information needs and ecosystem, they were able to also create a set of suggested steps to improve access and news coverage.

This case study includes a look at how Hardman and Brown conducted the research, what they learned, and what could have worked better. They also include recommendations for journalists wanting to practice this kind of research.