Neighbor to Neighbor, Cincinnati, OH 2001
The Cincinnati Enquirer,
National Issues Forum
A year of extraordinary racial tension in Cincinnati in 2001 prompted an extraordinary response by the city's media, led by the Enquirer, which collaborated on a project that involved 2,000 local residents in solutions-oriented conversations about race.
The paper had begun focusing on race even before rioting broke out in Cincinnati, publishing a race project March 4, 2001 - just five weeks before mobs took to the streets over the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman. With Pew support, the paper worked with its partners to go beyond traditional reporting and facilitate crucial citizen-to-citizen communication.
The partners started the project with a poll in August 2001 of 1,112 adults in Greater Cincinnati. A five-part series, "Divided by Race," Sept. 2-6, looked at the stark divide between black and white responses. WCPO hosted a panel discussion with live studio audiences in three parts of the viewing area.
The partners followed up the initial reporting project with a second, more solutions-oriented project, "Neighbor to Neighbor." During October, partners announced an effort to bring together groups of neighbors to discuss race and possibly take some action toward reconciliation. Readers were encouraged to sign up for a session online or through a clip-and-send coupon in the paper. Neighborhood-based conversations began Nov. 11. On Nov. 25, the paper ran its first repot on what people were saying. More readers signed up.
Within four months, some 130 conversations had been held, involving more than 2,000 people. Nearly half the participants held follow-up meetings on their own. One group was meeting regularly. Several of the groups had developed recommendations for action and were exploring joint services between black and white churches and opening lines of communication between neighborhood groups and police. All the major media in Cincinnati, acting as the Cincinnati Media Collaborative, covered the conversations in regular reports or special programming. The Enquirer started regular features, including "Diversity Success Stories" and a weekend "Diversity Report Card" on how the effort was progressing.
To extend the reach of the conversation, the Collaborative partners started a book project, "On the Same Page," aimed at getting residents to read the same book and attend a discussion group about it. The book chosen was "A Lesson Before Dying" by Ernest Gaines. The effort culminated when Gaines visited Cincinnati in April for a live call-in show on WCET.
Rosemary J. Goudreau
The Cincinnati Enquirer
312 Elm Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202-2410
Phone: (513) 768-8311
Voices of the People, Cincinnati, OH 1995
The Community Press Chain of Suburban Weeklies
Q102 and WNNK Radio
An unusual partnership, with TV taking the lead and enlisting suburban weeklies rather than one large daily, "Voices of the People" sought, according to its mission statement, "to empower citizens by making sure their voices are heard and by showing their involvement does make a difference."
Short on resources when it first kicked off in May 1995, the partners simply had staffers each call 10 people from the telephone directory and discuss their needs and issues that affected their lives. Pew support allowed the partners to hire a community coordinator to organize projects under the "Voices of the People" umbrella.
One of the first issues the partners tackled was public funding of sports stadiums, the subject of a special referendum on March 19, 1996. In the weeks leading up to the referendum, Community Press newspapers invited readers to send in their questions about the issue and answered the questions in weekly columns. Similarly, WKRC answered two to three viewers' questions on its nightly newscast and Sunday morning public affairs show, culminating in a March 15 televised special in which citizens questioned a panel of experts on the pros and cons of stadium funding. Turn-out on the referendum was a record-breaking 49 percent of registered voters - more than double the turn-out for the 1992 elections.
In July, WKRC traveled to four communities - one each week for an exercise in public listening. Reporters spent the first three days of the week in the community simply talking to citizens. Thursday featured a live broadcast from the town, followed by a town meeting on local issues. The partners also convened six town hall meetings with voters questioning congressional candidates running in the November election.
Steve Minium (Former VP News, WKRC-TV)
Vice President of News
Clear Channel Television
1906 Highland Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45219-3161
TEL: (513) 763-5425
FAX: (513) 421-2873
Community Press Newspapers
5552 Cheviot Rd.
Cincinnati, OH 45247
Phone: (513) 248-8600
Shaping the Next Century, Dayton, OH 1995
Dayton Daily News
WPTD public television
The Miami Valley Issues Forum
TheMontgomery County Historical Museum
Marking Dayton's 1996 bicentennial, the partners launched "Shaping the Next Century" to encourage public conversations about directing the city into the future. The Daily News ran a series of stories in late 1995 that looked at Dayton's history as well as challenges yet to be met. In January 1996, public television station WPTD and WYSO simulcast a 90-minute documentary and live panel discussion, inviting the public to phone-in questions and comments about where Dayton should be headed.
Though an exact count was not made, the stations received more calls than they could accommodate and panelists promised to return to answer questions. Also in January, the partners held a non-broadcast community issues forum on the city's future.
Director of Broadcasting
Greater Dayton Public Television
110 S. Jefferson St.
Dayton, OH 45402
Phone: (513) 220-1600
Martha Steffens (Former project leader)
Professor, School of Journalism
University of Missouri- Columbia
134-B Neff Annex
Columbia, MO 65211-1200
TEL: (573) 884-4839
FAX: (573) 884-1372
|[ Doing Civic Journalism ] [ Pew Projects ] [ Batten Awards ]|
[ About the Pew Center ]
[ Search Engine ] [ Site Map ] [ Home ]