Listening Post Collective Grows with Support from News Integrity Initiative

The Listening Post Collective, a project of Internews that focuses on growing local news engagement in the United States, is included in the first round of grants from the News Integrity Initiative.

The Listening Post Collective provides journalists, newsroom leaders, and non-profits tools and advice to create meaningful conversations with their communities.

Conventional wisdom says that communities in the US do not suffer from a lack of information access. That’s actually not true. Most households with an income less than $20,000 don’t have internet at home. Newspapers around the country are cutting staff and rely on counting clicks to determine coverage. Public radio is great news content, but traditionally reaches out to white, upper middle class residents. All of this has led to media deserts, where communities see diminished coverage of schools, employment, housing, local politics and more.

The Listening Post Collective’s process of addressing these news gaps starts by learning from communities how their existing information flows work. In Omaha that might include something like fliers, in New Orleans it might be a church service, in rural Ohio, a community baby shower. The Collective develops projects with local partners that tap into those local channels with relevant news, and create new information opportunities where gaps exist. Each project looks slightly different in each town or neighborhood, but they share a common purpose:

  • To revitalize or create conversation between local media and citizens
  • To connect people with each other and with sources of information and action on local issues
  • To give people a voice in the issues that matter to them in their communities

Listening Post partners are experimenting with our playbook in Omaha, Minneapolis, Oakland, Baltimore, Champaign IL, Mansfield OH, New York City, Tampa, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Maine and the Jersey Shore.

“Our fundamental principle is that good reporting starts with listening,” said Jesse Hardman, Founder of the Listening Post. “The Listening Post Collective is a way of sharing resources, tools and ideas – not just among journalists but with anyone seeking to engage their community in an ongoing conversation.”

The News Integrity Initiative, launched earlier this year at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, investigates the roots of mistrust in news and invests in solutions for building public support for quality journalism through grants, applied research, events and training.

“This first group of grants embodies NII’s values and vision by offering inspiring ideas, practical tools and research for newsrooms and organizations to build trust, understanding and solutions in our communities,” said Molly de Aguiar, Managing Director for the Initiative.

“What we see everywhere we work is a real hunger for local, trusted, reliable information,” said Jeanne Bourgault, Internews President and CEO. “That’s not different here at home. It’s important for us to be able to bring the lessons we’ve learned around the world and apply them in the U.S.”

Internews, an international nonprofit organization, works to ensure access to trusted, quality news and information that empowers people to have a voice in their future and to live healthy, secure, and rewarding lives. Formed in 1982, Internews has worked in more than 90 countries, and currently has offices in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and North America.