University of Illinois
League of Women Voters
The partners teamed up for the Illinois Voter Project (IVP), an effort to make election coverage more issues-focused and responsive to voters rather than candidates. The university conducted a statewide opinion survey before the March 1994 primary to determine citizens' major concerns. In June, the partners began a series of 14 focus groups designed to refine those findings, identifying in greater detail what citizens see as problems in their communities and possible solutions.
The research showed that key election issues were crime, education, jobs and tax spending. In September, after six weeks of recruiting members, the partners convened two Citizen Agenda Panels - one city and one suburban - to interview experts in the problem areas and develop a set of policy recommendations to present to candidates. Members of the panels were included among the questioners in a town hall-style debate sponsored by the partners Oct. 19.
The partners hoped that most Chicago-area media would use their research and citizen panels in election coverage and, thus, did not create a formal alliance with any particular media partner but reported their findings at press briefings. Interest was especially keen at the city's three daily newspapers. The suburban Daily Herald embraced the process and created its own citizen panel in addition to covering the IVP. The process also received coverage in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun Times and several radio stations. ChicagoLand Television (CLTV), a regional cable news service, produced a 30-minute documentary about the IVP that aired three times prior to the November election.
Tapping Civic Life, Wichita, KS 1993
The Wichita Eagle
The Harwood Group
This groundbreaking project created what might be called the infrastructure of civic journalism - a set of tools for uncovering the civic life of a community and tapping into it. The Eagle set out with no less a goal than improving the quality of civic life in Wichita by strengthening and promoting public dialogue and better reflecting that dialogue in the newspaper's pages. It asked The Harwood Group (now the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, of Bethesda, MD) to help it identify the origins of public discourse and determine how journalists could use the information in a meaningful way.
Harwood developed five steps for finding civic spaces and coined the term "mapping" to describe how newsrooms can use these steps to enrich their reporting. The idea is that a newsroom can create a roadmap for how different areas of a community's civic life work and how journalists can connect with those areas.
A team of Eagle reporters and editors tried out the materials in reporting on two very different Wichita neighborhoods. Their experiences were captured in a workbook, "Tapping Civic Life: How to Report First, and Best, What's Happening in Your Community." The Pew Center distributed the book to thousands of reporters and editors across the country. Civic mapping became a key tool in the efforts of many newsrooms to practice civic journalism. The book was updated in 2000 to reflect those efforts and was used to guide a series of seminars on civic mapping that involved 24 U.S. newsrooms.
|[ Doing Civic Journalism ] [ Pew Projects ] [ Batten Awards ]|
[ About the Pew Center ]
[ Search Engine ] [ Site Map ] [ Home ]