Media Changing the Way Minority Issues and Politics Covered
Citizen Involvement is Key to 13 New Civic Journalism Projects
Washington, DC, Jan. 21, 1998 - Newspapers and broadcasters increasingly are forming civic journalism partnerships to research and report on topics important to their communities. These in-depth reports generally include ways for citizens to generate their own ideas, recommendations and solutions to problems.
The Pew Center for Civic Journalism has supported 62 of these civic journalism projects since 1993. For five years, the Center has helped news organizations create laboratories for experiments in how to do journalism that encourages citizens to become involved in their community.
"Civic journalism is rapidly evolving around the country - beyond town meetings, polls and solution stories," said Jan Schaffer, the Center's executive director. "In our role as a catalyst, we will continue to support this creativity and will showcase the best of these efforts."
In 1998, the Pew Center's advisory board selected for funding 13 civic journalism experiments across the country. The ideas and the newsgathering techniques were proposed by the participating news organizations. The Center will spend $355,000 to help cover unusual expenses; an average of about $27,000 for each initiative.
For the first time, a PBS documentary is included on the list. Other projects include an innovative approach to covering politics and new efforts to tap into changing communities.
Covering Changing Communities
BronxNet, Multi-Lingual Journalism Program of Lehman College - A multi-lingual tabloid will work with community access cable channels in the Bronx to create interactive call-in shows, electronic town meetings and other special shows where residents can identify issues and address problems affecting their communities.
El Paso, TX
El Paso Times, KVIA-TV (ABC) - Town hall meetings will seek to learn not only how Hispanics relate to other racial and ethnic groups, but also how they relate to one another, how established Hispanics feel about immigrants and how language and political issues are affected.
Chicago Reporter, WGN-TV, WNUA-FM - News organizations will help a racially changing neighborhood set an agenda after an in-depth examination of the impact of race and poverty on residents. Journalists will also explore the street-level inequities and tensions that can lead to racial conflicts.
San Francisco, CA
Covering Community, Social Issues
San Francisco Examiner, Maynard Institute for Journalism Education - A multi-lingual poll will seek information about how the city's communities are being reshaped by changing demographics and shifting populations that are altering the political landscape.
Idaho Falls, ID
Idaho Statesman, Idaho Falls Post Register, Lewiston Morning Tribune, Idaho Spokesman-Review, Idaho Public Television, KTVB (NBC, Boise), KIFI-Idaho 8 (ABC, Idaho Falls) - Every new tax dollar collected in Idaho could be spent on prisons by the year 2006. The coalition of major news organizations in the state will explain the trade-offs of the construction boom in a series of reports. The partners plan to tap citizen perspectives through focus groups and polls and convene a solutions conference to advise legislators.
The Working Group, KQED-TV, Public Radio's "Marketplace" - A series of four one-hour specials that addresses the changing nature of work in America will be accomplished by local outreach and education campaigns in several metro areas to encourage discussion about how people are coping with dramatic shifts in work lives.
Daily World, Channel 20, TCI Cablevision - The project, in its second year, will help citizens and official leaders look toward solutions and help build citizens' agenda for dealing with complex environmental and economic challenges confronting the Southern Olympic Peninsula.
Muncie Star Press, WLBC-FM - Further reform efforts are expected on the issue of assessing Indiana taxes, which are not based on the market value of homes. The media partners plan to educate citizens on how the tax structure is established and how they can become active in the debate.
Newspapers and journalism schools in Raleigh, Colorado Springs, Fredericksburg, VA, and Columbia, SC - The partners are trying to connect with groups in their communities that have become disaffected or disenchanted with press coverage. The project, in its second year, is evaluating whether the experiments have made a difference in newspapers.
Los Angeles, CA
Orange County Register, Riverside Press-Enterprise, LA Opinion, KTTV (Fox), KCET-TV (PBS), KCRW-FM in Santa Monica, KPCC-FM in Pasadena, Orange County NewsChannel - A broad media coalition will seek to find what citizens know and don't know about 10 ballot issues to be voted on in June. Stories will also examine how citizens can access and participate in the political system.
Seattle Times, KCTS-TV, KUOW-FM, KPLU-FM - A citizens' agenda developed in 1997 will be integrated into this year's election coverage. The media partners also will form a citizen's panel in several communities to evaluate issues and candidates.
Portland Newspapers, Central Maine Newspapers, WGME-TV (CBS), Maine Public Television - Citizens will be asked to identify key issues beginning with the gubernatorial election. The media partners will follow these issues after the election and compose a book to help the governor and legislature address citizens' concerns.
California Voter Foundation, state news organizations - All campaign contributions will be posted online in efforts to help journalists and voters follow the influence of money and promote communications among candidates, journalists and voters.
The Pew Center for Civic Journalism is an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts. The Pew Charitable Trusts, among the nation's largest philanthropies, support nonprofit activities in the areas of culture, education, the environment, health and human services, public policy and religion. Based in Philadelphia, the Trusts make strategic investments that encourage and support citizen participation in addressing critical issues and effecting social change.
The Pew Center collects the results of civic journalism projects around the country and spotlights the best practices through workshops, videos, publications, speeches and other outreach. The Pew Center for Civic Journalism Web site is at www.pewcenter.org.