The Local hosted an event for journalists, editors and others to discuss how newsrooms in Sweden can do more to involve their community in reporting. Catherine Edwards discusses what we learned, and what’s next for engaged journalism in Sweden.
Regular readers of The Local have hopefully noticed a change in how we do journalism over the past two years. When we launched Membership, this wasn’t just a way to raise revenue, but also a chance to bring our readers closer to our reporting and give them ownership of The Local.
In May I joined the European Journalism Centre’s Engagement Accelerator as Sweden Ambassador, along with five other ambassadors from France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and the UK. Our aim is to research and promote engaged journalism in our countries and across Europe, and to bring together those who are interested in it.
Around 30 guests joined us at our Stockholm office in October, and we were proud to host four external speakers with extensive experience of community-driven journalism: editor and entrepreneur Petter Beckman, Kerstin Gustafsson Figueroa and Eleni Terzitane of Nyhetsbyrån Järva, and digital strategist Brit Stakston who is CEO of Blankspot.
We began the event by outlining the concept of engaged journalism. This term can be used to talk about any methods that involve bringing the reader into the reporting process, for example using surveys and questionnaires to find out about your audience, hosting events to bring readers together, responding thoughtfully to comments and feedback, and much more.
It’s not necessarily about activism or getting more clicks and shares on articles, but when done well, treating journalism as a dialogue with readers gives them the tools to engage not only with the news, but in society and democracy more widely.
I shared details of some of the projects that the EJC’s Engagement Accelerator has worked with across the Europe. In Romania, a pop-up newsroom brought a Bucharest editorial team closer to their rural readers. German publication Krautreporter sees its journalists as ‘conversation starters’ and it’s not possible to publish an article without a journalist posting the first comment to get that conversation going.