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CIR partners with non-news organizations to help it reach an even broader audience

Meghann FarnsworthWhile digital engagement discussions are undoubtedly here to stay, physical engagement strategies have real value, says Meghann Farnsworth of the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR). She recently spoke at the Dissecting Engagement conference at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.

Farnsworth notes that digital versus physical engagement is not one or the other. They should be compatible and complementary, she says. A key element, she adds, is teaming up with non-news organizations to help CIR reach an even broader audience.

Physical engagement experiments by CIR’s distribution and engagement team include:

  • Using Meals on Wheels in Sacramento, California, to deliver postcards to senior citizens touting an upcoming charity fraud story. CIR used Meals on Wheel as its delivery method since it wanted to reach elderly residents, who often are the target of charity scams.
  • Mailing postcards to a targeted geographic location. CIR sent bilingual information cards to Oxnard, California, residents who lived near strawberry fields that had a high rate of pesticide use. To test response, CIR added a six-digit phone number to the back of the card, asking people to text the word “pesticide” to the number. Those who responded received a link to specific pesticide-use data on their city block.
  • Creating the Off/Page Project, a collaboration with Youth Speaks where young poets create artistic responses to investigative reporting pieces. In “Whispers from the Field,” young storytellers provide a voice to a CIR investigation into the rape, assault and harassment of female migrant workers.
  • Collaborating with playwrights to reinterpret investigations for the stage, and taking those productions into the communities impacted by the investigations.

“As a nonprofit, we’re lucky enough to be able to try something, admit it didn’t work and revise,” says Farnsworth. “Being able to have that data and adjust and seeing how people get news is half the battle.”

Watch Meghann Farnsworth’s presentation from Dissecting Engagement

Sarah Strasburg  
 
Guest blogger



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