Can journalism bring people together in Mississippi? What would it mean for our state?
Clickbait headlines, sensationalism, daily conflict, alarmist reporting — it’s enough to make a lot of people tune out the news altogether. Coupled with the decline of traditional community newspapers, many people in philanthropy are asking: How can we strengthen journalism for the sake of our democracy?
Since 2018, the Community Foundation for Mississippi has been connecting philanthropy with ways to make a strategic impact around journalism in Mississippi.
In addition to bringing in dollars, we also see the benefit of bringing in new ideas.
In 2023, the Community Foundation began researching the methods of Constructive Journalism, as defined and advocated by the Denmark-based Constructive Institute. This method of journalism aims to help societies come together and find common ground, as opposed to emphasizing conflict and opposing viewpoints. The goal is not to smooth over problems, but rather to add hope.
Questions we have been pursuing include:
- Can journalism bring people together in Mississippi? How? Why?
- What gaps and opportunities do people in Mississippi see in their state and local coverage?
- How can journalism bring unengaged and marginalized groups into civic dialogue?
- Can adopting a different role help existing media outlets better serve their communities AND financially survive? How?
Journalists report the facts and hold leaders accountable. But that’s not the end of the story.
To ground our efforts in a Mississippi audience perspective, we interviewed a diverse group of 20 people from every corner of the state. Our audience saw value both in journalism’s traditional purposes and in its opportunities to move things forward in Mississippi.
The people we heard from described specific opportunities for journalism to play a key role in community-building and problem-solving at the state and local levels. They also pointed to the media’s power to define Mississippi’s narrative.
The stories our journalists tell, and the ways they tell them, shape how we see our communities and ourselves.
What does Constructive Journalism look like in practice? Could it actually work — and make a difference — in Mississippi? Let’s find out together.
Virtual Meeting: Sept. 19, 10-11:30 a.m.
The Community Foundation for Mississippi is inviting all media members statewide to learn, ask questions and share their feedback about Constructive Journalism.
The virtual meeting will share examples of what this method looks like in practice. We will also share ideas from Mississippians about topics they think could benefit from this approach.
The Community Foundation wants to know:
- What do you think of the idea?
- How does it relate to what you already do?
- What training and resources would you need to practice more of it?
WHAT: An open, virtual meeting to share examples of Constructive Journalism from overseas, alongside insights from a diverse audience of Mississippians.
WHO: Any and all journalists, reporters, editors, broadcasters, bloggers, podcasters and content creators in Mississippi. Community stakeholders are invited, too.
WHY: To gather feedback, ideas and questions from media members, and to begin forming a network of practical resources for those who are interested.
HOW: Sign up to receive the Zoom meeting invitation by email and be added to future communications about this effort.