The first community conversation about the future of local news coverage in Licking County drew about 50 people in October, and there was so much to discuss that organizers offered to host a second forum.
The next forum will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15, at NEWORK Space, 14 N. Park Place, on Courthouse Square in downtown Newark.
The forums hosted by the TheReportingProject.org, the nonprofit news organization of the Journalism Program at Denison University, include journalists from local media, including The Advocate, Granville Sentinel, Pataskala Standard, and WNKO radio.
“At its core, that is what this is all about: community,” said Alan Miller, the former Columbus Dispatch executive editor who now teaches journalism at Denison, in welcoming the participants to the first gathering. “Well-informed individuals make for a stronger community.”
He said that an informed community inspires a caring community and a better quality of life for everyone. And news organizations, which are challenged by diminishing resources, need to hear from the community to help set priorities in news coverage.
“We need your help to make sure we’re providing local news coverage that this community wants and needs,” Miller said.
Facilitated by Steve Krak, of Denison’s Red Frame Lab, the conversation on Oct. 10 focused on people in Licking County who might want or need access to local news but find it difficult to overcome barriers to the news, such as cost, lack of time or lack of awareness about where to go for information.
Krak asked participants to use “design thinking,” a process in which they visualize an audience or customer and brainstorm how best to create a product that best meets the needs and desires of that audience – in this case, a news source.
In small groups, the participants worked to identify people from the community who weren’t in the room but would benefit from local news. One group, for example, envisioned a 30-something mother of two children who is busy with work, keeping her kids clothed, fed and on task with schoolwork. Her biggest barrier to accessing local news, they said, is time.
Another group identified a 21-year-old single man who works in construction or a local factory, owns a pickup truck, hangs out locally with his friends and would be interested in knowing more about things to do, in addition to other local news. But he doesn’t know where to find that news or how to access it.
The next step in the conversation is to brainstorm ideas about how to reach those people and others in Licking County who likely would appreciate local news and reduce or eliminate the barriers between them and news or information that would help them navigate daily life here.
That conversation will happen on Nov. 15, and is free and open to the public. Free subs and soda will be available at 6:45 p.m. at NEWORK Space just before the start of the event. Those who would like to join the conversation can register for the forum at bit.ly/news-forum-LC-session2.