LJC PIN work in October

Joellen Easton
Business Development Manager
Public Insight Network

Every month I take a look at what PIN newsrooms have been working on, and put together a note touching on work in newsrooms across the country.

In the last month I was struck by how many newsrooms are increasingly leveraging what PIN can do uniquely well: finding new story angles, collecting story tips, bringing new voices to your reporting, offering portraits of what’s happening in a community, convening people to tell their own story, and bridging the gap between online engagement and reaching sources either in person or via mobile.  That’s what a broad and diverse source base has the power to do.

Speaking of broad and diverse, PIN newsrooms are also recruiting sources in new and creative ways.  Marketplace’s analyst is going in the field with reporters, recruiting sources alongside interviews.  WWOZ’s PIN staffer and her team of volunteers are recruiting new sources alongside music and community events.  The St. Louis Beacon and Nine Network are convening an ambitious series of conversations around election questions, recruiting sources in the process.  WNYC and California Watch are using SMS outreach to bridge the language gap.  OPB is using LibrariUS to recruit new and diverse sources.  By placing a single PIN signup link on a single high-traffic and topical webpage, WNYC gained a consistent flow of new sources.

Our Local Journalism Center partners in particular have been continuing strong social media outreach to grow their source networks, planning public outreach events for later in the fall, and using PIN to find sources for stories and to find new stories they wouldn’t be reporting on otherwise.

Changing Gears has been working with PIN to get new stories on their radar faster. From Sarah Alvarez:

Michelle Koles makes lunches at the Can Do Kitchen, one of the smaller organizations getting into business ‘incubating.’

“Changing Gears was able to cover several stories in the last month that only made it onto our radar through PIN.

We covered the phenomenon of temporary staffing agencies in the manufacturing industry needing more job seekers, while many still think there are no jobs available in manufacturing. This was explained and sourced by a PIN source outside of Changing Gears’ network — thanks for sharing!

Another PIN source sent us a tip that Detroit Metro Airport is experimenting with growing biofuels on the premises, and we covered it in this story. For one of our partner newsrooms, Michigan Radio, we were able to find a PIN source that could share the real reason Ford Motor company is not competitive in China today. He was the first Ford employee in China, and said it all boiled down to hats.

PIN sources also rounded out stories on business incubatorsgrassroots business incubators, and advanced batteries.

In Phoenix, Fronteras worked with PIN to get to know an undercovered immigrant community. From Nick Blumberg:

“In October, Fronteras profiled an immigrant community in Arizona that’s never received much attention: refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They welcomed us into their community meeting, and to their lively church services. They told of the hardships they faced in their homeland, and of quiet but long-standing connections between Arizona and the Congo. And the president of their community organization shared his hope that immigrants from the Congo can become aware of and engaged in important civic matters in their new country. Check out the story here (three members at right).

We also partnered on two queries with fellow PIN partner Not In Our Town, a documentary group profiling people who fight hate crimes. We received a fascinating array of responses, as people shared about if and how they feel safe and accepted in their community.”

And at Harvest Public Media, Peggy Lowe is working with sources to BS-test myths and messages around food and agriculture:

“Two of our reports in the last month used what we learned from queries to get at the real story: One of our reporters was looking into whether or not a recent dispute over farm dust is addressing a real concern, so I created this queryasking sources for their experiences with farm dust….and wrote this blog item after the EPA ended the speculation with an announcement. The post is an attempt at transparency, more collaboration with our readers, and breaking news. The reporter also wrote a blog item.  In advance of Food Day (October 24), we queried to find out if/how consumers are confused about messages about “good” and “bad” food.  Turns out, they’re not so much confused as they are frustrated.  Here’s the story.”

Joellen Easton Business Development Manager
Public Insight Network
Joellen Easton gets to chart the next mission for PIN: New ways to use the network for meeting information needs, with new partners and new technologies. All shiny objects cross her desk.

Her background is in anthropology, and she has produced for WGBH, PRI’s The World, and as a freelancer. She first worked with PIN at Marketplace as a PIN analyst for four years, and after that as partners manager for three years, leading the training and support team. She is degreed from Tufts and MIT.