Why Engagement is Necessary: Interviews with Practitioners and Thinkers on Engaged Journalism [Part I]

Published: June 1, 2020

In the age of information overload, the strength of news media around the world are being tested: whether they can play their role of gathering and verifying what is important and necessary out of the tsunami of entangled, complicated and often unreliable information, making them digestible and providing context.

Newsrooms need to work harder to ascertain whether their coverage is reaching and resonating with their audience. They must be flexible enough to revisit and review their work if they find gaps. Journalism cannot continue as a one-way communication. It needs to initiate dialogues that enable journalists and the public to learn from each other, and to create information together. That requires engagement.

But what exactly is engagement? In what aspects does it differ from traditional news gathering? What does it aim to achieve? This interview series provides some answers to these questions through the experiences and insights of practitioners and thinkers of Engaged Journalism in the U.S. The interviews were conducted in October 2019 for a previous paper “Engaged Journalism” published in the March 2020 issue.

The first part of this series features journalists working for two traditional media outlets, knkx and KUOW, both NPR affiliates in Seattle. knkx is working on their first engaged journalism in a podcast series ‘Outsiders’ that centers on the lives of homeless people and the complicated reality of homelessness, a growing issue in all West Coast cities. KUOW launched a community engagement team five years ago. Their project ‘Ask A’ has created opportunities for Seattle citizens to have conversations that deepen mutual understanding, especially with those who have been seen and treated as ‘others.’

The two public radio stations are trying out different ways of engagement, but both are working to open up their newsrooms, lower the barriers between the journalists and the public, and to bridge social divisions within the community.

The NHK Monthly Report on Broadcast Research

AOKI Kimiko

in Japanese