Rethinking local news in New York City by collaborating with residents and libraries

Community members attend an Open Newsroom meeting at the Red Hook Public Library, July 9, 2019.

MEDIUM — March 30, 2021 — How THE CITY’s Open Newsroom initiative is creating a “two-way street” of information sharing on issues like food insecurity, tenants rights and unemployment.

Audience engagement in journalism can refer to everything from social media outreach to innovative methods of distributing information for greater impact. At THE CITY, a non-profit newsroom covering New York City, one project launched in collaboration with engagement journalism students at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY is reframing what local news can look like.

“Oftentimes, local news is parachuting in on some sort of issue around crime, providing no context,” said Terry Parris Jr., Engagement Director at THE CITY. “There’s a lot of reporters and a lot of folks who are stuck in that journalism bubble.”

Parris launched The Open Newsroom, a series of community gatherings aimed at creating a “two-way street” of information between the news outlet and its audience, with both sides asking questions and sharing expertise in equal balance. Some of the meetings focus on hyperlocal issues, such as neighborhood-specific concerns in Brooklyn, while others explore topics like special education in New York City’s public schools.

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