Room for Trust: Creating Space for Real Engagement (April 2017)

Friday, April 21, 2017 - 9:00am-5:00pm

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Americans’ trust and confidence in the media is at an all-time low. Meanwhile, journalists’ need to build relationships and loyalty with the audience is more important than ever. How do you connect the two? In an intensive one-day, hands-on workshop, we’ll dive into case studies and best practices, identify lessons and create unique audience engagement approaches for your news organization. By focusing on three topic areas — transparency, listening and outreach — we’ll explore how to build trust and engagement with audiences in today’s political landscape.

Poynter adjunct Joy Mayer, Andrew DeVigal, chair in Journalism Innovation and Civic Engagement at University of Oregon's SOJC-Portland, and Poynter digital innovation faculty Katie Hawkins-Gaar, will guide you through a mix of group discussions, presentations and hands-on activities that address many of the challenges and opportunities that journalists face when prioritizing audience engagement and political coverage. Bring an idea for an engagement project, and use the hands-on sessions to refine and build on that idea (or replace it with a new, better one!). You'll leave with a strategy for bringing your idea to life, and you'll have new colleagues and coaches to guide you during implementation.

During this day-long event we will tackle:

Transparency: Transparency is a buzzword in journalism, but are we on the same page about what it means? What do you hope your audience knows about you, and what can they easily find out? In this session, we'll identify our terms and outline steps for improvement.

Listening and Moderating: Don’t be tone deaf in your media organization. Remember that lots of people are listening but not talking. What is the social etiquette? How can you listen better online and make time for it in-person?

Outreach: Who are you reaching? Who are you inviting to engage with you? Whose voices are you listening to as you plan coverage and host conversations? These questions are vital both to fight echo chambers and filter bubbles and also to grow our audience.

Who Will Benefit:

Audience engagement editors at news organizations (digital, radio, broadcast and print); newsroom leaders, senior editors, product managers, digital innovation directors, academics and social media editors. Pairs are encouraged to come from the same news organization so they can plan together. Because of the interactive nature of this workshop, we’re limiting attendance to the first 40 participants.

Date: Friday, April 21, 2017
Time: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Cost: Thanks to the support of, this unique event costs just $159. Bring a colleague (or two!) from your organization and they'll pay just $140 for the workshop. That's $299 for two people. Students may attend for $80. Your registration also includes lunch. Email to get the promo codes if those discounts apply to you.
Event location: Medill San Francisco, 44 Montgomery St., San Francisco, California
Nearby Hotel: The San Francisco Marriott Marquis is offering attendees a special rate through March 29. A link to book your room will be sent to you within 48 hours after you complete payment.
Questions? Contact us at

Here's the schedule

9:30: Welcome and Introductions

10-10:30: Community Engagement -- The Key to Earning Trust
We’ll set the tone for the day and introduce the major themes.

With each of the next three topics, we’ll break down the 90-minute sessions as follows:
  • 30-40 minutes of presentation, case studies, conversation catalysts
  • 30-40 minutes of hands-on work
  • 10-15 minutes of reporting back

Participants will bring their own ideas and projects to each topic and will organize into discussion groups according to shared goals.

10:30-12: Transparency (disclosure, process and brand storytelling)
Transparency is a buzzword in journalism. Let’s talk about some of the things it can mean, and what opportunities exist for your organization to be more transparent. Are you already disclosing things about your staff or your organization that you think the public has a right to know? Publishing your ethics policies? Practicing radical transparency around the reporting process? Identifying and sharing what your organization values and inviting your audience to share those values?

Noon-12:45: Lunch

12:45-2:15: Listening and moderating (doing it better online and making time for it in person)
Is your organization investing in listening as well as publishing? We’ll look at ways to listen as your community talks and to host productive conversations online. We’ll also talk about creating the time and space to listen in person.

2:15-2:30: Break

2:45-4:15: Outreach
Who are you reaching? Who are you inviting to engage with you? Whose voices are you listening to as you plan coverage and host conversations? Let’s talk about who has a seat at the table and whether they feel welcome. These questions are vital both to fight echo chambers and filter bubbles and also to grow our audience.

4:15-4:30: Break

4:30-5: Wrap up. What’s next for you and your organization?
We’ll close by agreeing on ways to keep in touch and support each other in implementing our projects. A Facebook group? Something else? We’ll find ways to support each other as we take what we learned back to our organizations.

This innovative program is offered in partnership with, the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications in San Francisco and the Digital Tools Project, a partnership of the American Press Institute and Poynter, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. A limited number of travel stipends are available to members of AAJA, NABJ, NAHJ, NAJA and NLGJA, thanks to the Ford Foundation.