Newsrooms and News Literacy

We strongly believe that traditional journalism can and should be a leader in helping communities navigate the local information ecosystems. For news organizations, two vital parts of this are enhanced transparency about what they do and deeper conversations with members of the community.

We’ve embarked on a pilot project with newsrooms in four American urban areas: Fresno, California; Phoenix, Arizona; Kansas City, Missouri; and Macon, Georgia.

Initial cities in newsroom pilot project: Modesto, Phoenix, Kansas City, Macon.
Initial cities in newsroom pilot project: Fresno/Modesto, Phoenix, Kansas City, Macon. (Google Maps)

In three of those places (Fresno, Kansas City, and Macon), we’re collaborating with the McClatchy media company and newsrooms. We will be helping the newsrooms, and working with members of the community, to boost transparency and engagement. We’ve developed a guide, our “Best Practices Cookbook,” that offers ideas, and how to make them happen. Our on-the-ground work will consist of experiments, and are measuring whether they are making a difference along the way.

The fourth city is, of course, the News Co/Lab’s home base at ASU’s Cronkite School. We’ll be working with Cronkite News, the student-run news arm of Arizona Public Broadcasting, as a test bed for some of the experiments. Among other things, we’re planning to embed transparency tools into the website workflow.

In both cases, we hope to engender more and better conversations with the communities the newsrooms serve. We hope that will lead to greater trust in the journalism.


Kansas City Star

The Kansas City Star serves a city and region that straddles two states (Kansas and Missouri). It has a long and almost fabled history of fine journalism, and has been a major presence in the social, economic, cultural, and political history of the area.

As in our other pilot cities, we’ll be working with members of the news staff and the wider community. We’ll be telling you more in our blog as the projects proceed.

Kansas City is a “Maker City”— a place that hope to evolve and improve by leveraging the rapidly growing “maker” movement. A major Kansas City institution, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, has partnered with Maker City, and the Star (and parent company McClatchy) are working on ways to move this ahead in their community. We believe the maker ideas have major potential in the community-information space, and are in conversations to try them out in our own projects with the Star.

Learn more about the project here.

Macon Telegraph

In the heart of Georgia is Macon, home of the Macon Telegraph, serving a metro-area population of about 230,000.

Here’s the organization’s Mission Statement and Motto:

The Telegraph will be the pre-eminent source of news, information, and advertising in the Middle Georgia region. It will do this by offering high-value products and services through the newspaper, website, mobile apps and partnerships with other media. The company will grow revenue and be good stewards of its resources in order to grow profit. The Telegraph’s historic mission, to inform the residents of Middle Georgia and to act as a community watchdog, is a privilege, responsibility and source of competitive strength. A commitment to customers and employees is fundamental to the company’s success.

The Telegraph occupies an unusual space in American journalism. A few years ago, with funding from the Knight Foundation, the organization’s newsroom moved onto the campus of Mercer University, a major local institution. There, it joined with Georgia Public Radio and the students and faculty of Mercer’s journalism program, with the overall goal in mind of finding ways to save local journalism while helping create the next generation of journalists.

As in our other pilot cities, we’ll be working with members of the news staff and the wider community. We’ll be telling you more in our blog as the projects proceed.

Learn more about the project.

The Fresno Bee

The Fresno Bee serves California’s central San Joaquin Valley, covering a six-county area that is one of the fastest-growing regions in in the state. Fresno County has a population of about 1 million people. First published in 1922, the organization’s mission is to “inform and advocate for the enhancement of life in the Valley.

The Fresno region is famous for their agricultural production. The city was founded as a depot for the Central Pacific Railroad Company, its location chosen by Leland Stanford himself. (Stanford funded the creation of Stanford University.)

As with the Modesto Bee, we’ll be working with members of the news staff and the wider community. We’ll be telling you more in our blog as the projects proceed.

Learn more about the project.

Cronkite News

Cronkite News is the student-powered, professionally managed news division of Arizona Public Broadcasting. It is owned and operated by Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Cronkite News serves an audience encompassing metropolitan Phoenix and much of Arizona.

Daily news products — from an evening PBS broadcast to online news services — are produced by the school’s students under the guidance of the school’s faculty and staff. Cronkite News functions in the manner of a “teaching hospital,” with 15 professional editors working with more than 120 students. It is by one of the largest nonprofit newsrooms in the nation, with bureaus in Washington and Los Angeles as well as Phoenix.

Cronkite News will be a test bed for some of our experiments in transparency and engagement.