In InterNews’ “Participatory journalism playbook: A field guide to listening and reporting with communities,” Capital Public Radio senior community engagement strategist jesikah maria ross lays out how a busy newsroom can—in five steps—make space for new perspectives by developing stories in participation with underrepresented members of the community.
The 26-page guide focuses on the key principles of participatory journalism—inclusion, co-creation, face-to-face events, public service, and civic infrastructure—through the lens of “Making Meadowview,” a podcast and digital reporting project from the Central California public radio station.
The series focused on foregrounding community perspectives in Meadowview, a South Sacramento neighborhood that is portrayed negatively in most news coverage. As ross wrote, “CapRadio wanted to take a different approach to reporting on Meadowview and the people who call it home. To do that, we committed to spending a year in the neighborhood, listening and reporting stories guided by residents’ needs and aspirations.”
The guide acknowledges the challenges newsrooms face in reorienting toward participatory journalism:
Involving and serving community members who aren’t already part of our audience
requires new habits. It necessitates allocating more time to report stories. It means adopting a mindset that views community knowledge as key to accurate and relevant stories. It takes a willingness to forge reciprocal, instead of transactional, relationships. It means creating encounters in which people feel invited and welcome into the reporting process.