Breaking Through the Clutter: Finding the Value in Community Engagement

BY ANDREA SISNEROSscreen-shot-2016-09-27-at-4-37-01-pm

In a world filled with daily news from many different media outlets, the idea of value can easily be overshadowed by volume. It is easy for any journalist to find and push the next big story, but an issue many organizations commonly face is the lack of reader engagement. “It’s value we should be seeking ‒ intelligence, reasoned debate, contributions of information and expertise ‒ and not more volume, in either sense of the word,” said City University of New York journalism professor Jeff Jarvis on his blog Buzzmachine. Rather than simply presenting a story to an audience, have readers engage in collaboration that incorporates topics they would want to read about.

Take for example, The Texas Tribune. They have a goal that is centered on breaking through “media clutter.” Journalism today should be seen as a public good rather than as a business. According to Jeff Jarvis, who is the director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism, “Journalists should also see that members can contribute value in ways other than money; giving ideas, tips, content, promotion and effort.” This reflects the exact idea behind The Texas Tribune. The newspaper is among the few news outlets that have embraced their non-profit status. Being a nonprofit allows the organization and its writers to present news in a non-partisan way while delivering valuable facts. Not only is there en emphasis behind sharing these types of facts with the community, but one of their keys to success has been their ability to find a way of presenting that fits modern news-consuming habits. Many of these habits revolve around a younger generation of readers that get news from social media.“We want to encourage by giving people the knowledge that they will need, we want to encourage civic participation…to become better informed and aware of the issues that are in play, and then it becomes the means for you to go out into your community and do something about it,” said Evan Smith, editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune.

Establishing a sense of community and encouraging engagement begins with where individuals get information and how they receive it. With a constant outpour of news stories, people are more likely to spend time reading and interacting with what matters to them and their lives.

For additional reading on new roles for journalists:

Andrea Sisneros attends the University of New Mexico and is majoring in strategic communication.


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