Building from 2016’s Informed Citizen Akron / Your Vote Ohio, where we connected citizens and Ohio newsrooms to promote more substantive discussion of the issues that matter most, we’re launching Your Voice Ohio to expand participatory journalism in Ohio.
The role of journalism in American democracy is under assault. Mainstream political actors are attacking the credibility, quality, and intent of “the media,” while the public’s trust in local and national news outlets has fallen apace. At the same time, the advertising-driven business model of most local news outlets has collapsed, likely for good.
On the flip side, many Americans are increasingly questioning the value of local news for their lives. Journalism often promotes itself as a public service, but many individuals feel they aren’t (or have never been) adequately served, with their challenges, problems, and lives insufficiently covered and, too often, ignored entirely.
These trends reflect a disconnect between many citizens and the institutions, including government and business, that influence their lives.
In conjunction with newsrooms and community organizations across Ohio, Your Voice Ohio will test, evaluate, and refine sustainable methods for engaging and serving communities through better, more participatory journalism. We’ll explore the complementary roles of public deliberation and discussion, community organizing, digital engagement, media collaboration, and new journalistic approaches in helping communities, and journalism, thrive.
Dozens of print, radio, and television newsrooms have already signed onto Your Voice Ohio to create a statewide news collaborative. The collaborative will share experiences and learning through experimentation and align reporting resources to better serve more Ohio communities.
Your Voice Ohio will connect newsrooms to new audiences, especially those who feel ignored by media. The effort will explore and evaluate how new approaches can support journalists in better listening to and understanding their communities to begin the process of (re)building relationships and trust. These relationships, based on listening and responding to the needs of their communities, will form the foundation of a new, more powerful journalism.