Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of posts about inclusive journalism — journalism that is done with communities not for communities. | Follow the conversation here.
St. Louis Public Radio’s outreach specialist and public insight analyst, Linda Lockhart, has focused for years on bringing the community into a story. She co-hosts conversations in the places where communities gather. She invites them to share their experiences and ideas via PIN with her and the newsroom. She urges her newsroom to cover their stories. All of that dedication and engagement pays off.
To mark one year after the events of Ferguson held the nation’s attention for more than the usual speedy news cycle, Linda helped with a five-part series (part one is here) by tapping PIN sources for their experiences with questions she had heard throughout the previous year. Below she shares how this happened and what they created.
What was the project and what was your role in it?
On the first anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer, nearly all of the the radio station staff was involved in news reporting. My role was to help find sources who could contribute to those reports.
Where did the idea for this topic come from?
My idea of asking questions related to the events of the past year came naturally, based on other PIN work. I simply wanted to find people who had stories to share about such things and what they had learned and what sorts of things need to occur for the community to move forward.
What communities or groups did you focus on engaging with? Why?
I chose to focus on engaging people who had conversed with us previously on the topic of Ferguson, plus other related topics, such as police, justice, discrimination and racism. I also sought out people, across racial lines, who lived in or near Ferguson. We wanted to hear from people of all ethnicities, so I did not target any one group.
How did you engage with your audience around this topic? What did they find compelling about these stories?
We engaged the audience primarily through social media, sharing the query and the resulting news reports. The station also held a town hall meeting and invited PIN sources and the general public at large. About 200 people attended this event. Many had become PIN sources through previous Ferguson-related events. We also were able to attract a good number of new sources. I believe people found our PIN-informed reports compelling because those interviewed shared diverse perspectives and snapshots of the emotions people continue to feel after the events of Aug. 9, 2014.
What are you hoping the impact of this project will be?
I am hoping this project will serve as an example of the special kind of stories we can share by contacting people whose voices might not otherwise be heard. As the people of the greater St. Louis area continue to move on, I hope this project will help everyone gain a better understanding of the events that occurred and the impact that those events had on people’s lives.