August 2, 2021
Scheduling note: This newsletter will be taking a random Tuesday off and will return Aug. 4.

Top stories
"When we talk about housing, we talk about it from the point of view of the developer, or, you know, the white residents who come to the council meetings, and that’s where the coverage stops. There really needs to be a change in how we think about our journalism, the mindsets that we use, how we understand our communities, and why people live where they live."

-- Alexandria Burris, IndyStar reporter, on covering the intersection of housing and racism

Watch the program for new ideas on covering this topic as the housing moratorium expires:
Advice from Jill GeislerBill Plante Chair in Leadership & Media Integrity, Loyola University Chicago, Freedom Forum Fellow in Women’s Leadership

You can learn a lot about a team’s culture simply by watching how their meetings run. You might be too accustomed to your own habits (that’s what culture is about) to see what an outsider would. But imagine for a moment that someone is taking notes on how things go.

  • How do people relate to each other as they assemble? Are there genuine interpersonal connections, superficial pleasantries, or a strictly-business start?
  • Are there any standing rituals that people seem to enjoy? What’s their purpose?
  • Is there an agenda (formal or informal), and if so, is it followed? 
  • How diverse is the group?
  • Who leads the meeting, and why? 
  • Do people in certain roles speak first, or more than others?
  • If some people speak less, is it by choice (they’re introverts and like to process before piping up) or by role or tenure - or hesitancy?
  • Does the group work to ensure all voices are heard? 
  • When ideas are batted around, do people challenge ideas constructively? Can people differ without being dismissive of each other as people? 
  • Do people seem to be reluctant to disagree, especially with the most powerful folks in the group? Is there a conscious effort to solicit candor, so as to avoid groupthink?
  • Are there references to professional or team values during the conversations?
  • Do people openly share credit with each other and take blame for goof-ups?
  • If this is a “hybrid” meeting of in-person and remote attendees, do people make intentional efforts to ensure the remote folks are full participants?
  • When the meeting ends, are there clear “next steps”? Do people leave knowing what each is responsible for and by when?
  • Did the meeting appear efficient, effective, and even enjoyable? 

Think about this list next time your team gathers. Or better yet, share the list with colleagues before your next meeting and see if they already have answers to those questions - for better or worse. You’re not just working to improve your meetings, you are working on upgrading your culture.

Education reporters have witnessed and documented the pandemic’s enormous effects on students, parents, teachers, administrators, and their communities. With so many voices – and quickly changing policies going into the next academic year – how can an education reporter lift the voices of those most impacted? 

In “Think Outside The Classroom: How to diversify education sources and the stories we tell,” a distinguished panel of veteran education reporters and editors will share their techniques for finding and shaping stories driven by the voices of those underrepresented in education coverage, including families of color, students with disabilities, rural residents, families experiencing homelessness, and others facing circumstances that impact their learning. 

Registration is open for this virtual discussion, which will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021.

Participants will learn how to: 

  • Move from authority-driven sourcing and framing to community-driven sourcing and framing
  • Avoid tokenism and stereotypes: Listen for and represent the truth between the extremes of success and despair in underrepresented communities
  • Cover dailies and in-depth stories with sensitivity, respect, and completeness

The Institute is offering this program at no cost thanks to a generous grant from the Gannett Foundation.
This newsletter is written & edited by the National Press Club Journalism Institute staff: Beth Francesco, Holly Butcher Grant and Julie Moos. Send us your questions and suggestions for topics to cover.

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