Community of Practice

Lenfest Institute expands Engaged Cities Community of Practice

Engagement-oriented news organizations serving U.S. cities are invited to submit interest forms

May 6, 2024

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The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is today announcing the expansion of the Engaged Cities Community of Practice, which convenes news organizations with engagement-first approaches to serving U.S. cities

Up to 15 organizations will be selected to join Engaged Cities as the community’s second group, or “Circle,” of participating publications. The Circle will launch in June, and members will meet on a bi-monthly basis and have additional opportunities to collaborate with peers, apply for grant funding, and attend in-person gatherings. 

The Institute launched Engaged Cities in 2023 in partnership with THE CITY. The community has nine founding member organizations that have built tight-knight, trusted relationships over the past year. Discussions have focused on tactical knowledge exchanges around offline engagement strategies, peer data benchmarking on audience and revenue metrics, and honest conversations about struggles facing news leaders during challenging times. The community has been described by members as a “therapy session,” a “gut check,” and “a graduate seminar for newsroom leaders.” 

The new multi-chapter structure was designed to expand this powerful peer-sharing opportunity to additional newsrooms while enabling the current Circle to maintain its existing level of intimacy, transparency, and collaboration. 

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 throughout 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. 

The Lenfest Institute’s Communities of Practice are funded by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Google News Initiative. Each Community is free to join and open to organizations of all kinds, regardless of business model, media type, or organization size. These groups provide the infrastructure and network for individuals and news organizations to learn, innovate and grow through sharing knowledge and partnering on solutions to the product, marketing, fundraising, audience, and revenue challenges that local news organizations face. 

The new Circle will include organizations among a variety of media types, business models, geographies, and growth stages. The unifying factor will be 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
  • A 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 we will host 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.

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