Mind the storytelling gap

The key to bringing underrepresented or ignored voices of a city into the mainstream news flow is collaboration — in both the production and consumption of news. And I believe that deepening the relationship between journalists and a community leads to new possibilities for economic sustainability of media and civic participation by a diverse population. This is why I am working to expand a community-based blog initiative, Mural, that I helped start in Sao Paulo, Brazil, into a full news organization.

When we neglect the stories of a portion of the population, we are excluding them not only from being interested in the news we are producing, but also from wanting to participate in their city life. My goal is to help make journalism essential to citizens again — essential to understanding the place where they live and to making better decisions — and to empower them to participate in the future and the present of their communities.

It is very important to stress that this is not about telling the stories that matter to the specific group. It is making every story matter to every citizen. It is about enlarging the perspective that both journalists and their audiences have about their city.

I believe that making journalism essential is also a way to build community support for news organizations, including financial support.

Status and next steps

After 10 months of deep research and interaction with other practitioners, I am ready to create a news organization that will embrace diversity and collaboration in storytelling, engaging journalists and the audience in conversations and participation. With a strong mission and a framework, I am looking for a funding partner that believes that we can contribute to and enhance the mainstream news flow of São Paulo, Brazil.

My next step is to make it happen! I want to transform the blog Mural initiative into a news organization that will not only test the framework on a larger scale, but also will experiment with new business models so that it could be replicated to other cities in the near future. This news organization will value diversity, collaboration, conversation, civic engagement and experimentation.  We are building the website for this news organization at agenciamural.com.br.

Takeaways

I realized the importance of local, diverse and collaborative news production to the future of journalism. It is the key to creating real and ongoing relationships between journalists and their audience.

I also came to see that the success of alternative revenue streams the news media is working to develop — donation, events, services and membership models — all rely on having a community that has deep affinity for the work the journalists are doing. Stabilizing this more engaging relationship with one’s audience is fundamental to long-term financial sustainability.

This is the result of Moi’s effort to address a challenge in journalism: How might we assure the inclusion of underrepresented and unheard voices in the mainstream news flow? Learn more about this challenge in the exploration and refinement phases of the process.