Engaged Cities

Engaged Cities is a community of practice for news organizations with engagement-first approaches to serving U.S. cities.

Created by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism in partnership with New York-based newsroom THE CITY, the Engaged Cities community works together to tackle common challenges, share innovative approaches, and serve as a sounding board for peers. The Engaged Cities community also pilots and spreads creative, collective solutions to help these news organizations serve their diverse communities in sustainable ways.

Engaged Cities is a multi-chapter community with Circles of up to 15 organizations that meet  bi-monthly for discussions that center on engagement as a throughline to addressing editorial, product, revenue, and operational issues. Additionally, The Lenfest Institute facilitates working groups for members to collaboratively solve business challenges, leads data benchmarking and research projects, provides micro-grant opportunities to spur experimentation and strategic collaboration, and publishes relevant best practices to benefit the field.

Inaugural Engaged Cities Community members

  • Chicago Public Media / WBEZ (Chicago)
  • Cityside (Berkeley and Oakland, Ca.)
  • Houston Landing (Houston)
  • LAist / KPCC (Los Angeles)
  • MLK50 (Memphis, Tenn.)
  • Outlier Media (Detroit)
  • PublicSource (Pittsburgh)
  • The Baltimore Banner (Baltimore)
  • THE CITY (New York)

Organizations that meet the following criteria are invited to submit a brief interest form to join the community:

  • Independent, digitally focused news organizations that have already launched (all business models and media types are welcome)
  • Primary audience and coverage area is a city in the United States
  • Demonstrated history of a community engagement-first approach and an innovative, collaborative spirit through their work
  • Primary participants have senior-level roles and buy-in from top leadership
  • Participants are willing to share actively and maintain confidentiality in the spirit of mutual benefit

To be considered for this Circle’s launch please submit your form by Friday, May 24, 2024. New members will be selected in early June and the first group meeting will be held in July. Interest forms submitted after May 24 will be considered for future Circles. 

Each Circle includes organizations among a variety of media types, business models, geographies, and growth stages. The unifying factor is a common purpose in engaging communities through trusted journalism. All organizations will be expected to adhere to co-developed community guidelines that promote honest candor, a sense of care, and professional vulnerability.

Participation in the Engaged Cities community entails:

  • Bi-monthly (every other month) pod meetings to discuss top-of-mind issues among leaders with shared values
  • Dedicated, active Slack channel to share and discuss engagement projects
  • Pop-up working groups/sprints to collaboratively tackle specific challenges with clear deliverables
  • Micro-grant opportunities to spur experimentation and strategic collaboration
  • Annual gathering of the full Engaged Cities community (this year, an in-person gathering at ONA24 in Atlanta)

Publishers interested in joining Engaged Cities are invited to fill out this interest form or to email [email protected] with any questions.

Local News Solutions

The Lenfest Institute provides free tools and resources for local journalism leaders to develop sustainable strategies to serve their communities.

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