Democracy and the Informed Citizen
This grassroots initiative explores the essential role that the humanities and journalism play in creating an informed citizenry—and in turn, a healthy democracy. The initiative is funded by the Mellon Foundation with support from the State Federation of Humanities Councils.
Democracy and the Informed Citizen aims to raise media literacy and expand support for local journalism by:
- bringing the public and respected journalists and scholars together to discuss reliable and unreliable sources of information
- creating chances for local journalists to engage directly with communities to address their concerns
- tackling questions that are crucial for understanding the ever-changing media landscape, such as:
What is the role of journalism in society? With so much information coming at us all the time, how should we know what to believe? What part does journalism play in raising and defining local and statewide issues?
NJCH is partnering with the Community Foundation of South Jersey to support a community reporter training series in six South Jersey communities from the Transform South Jersey initiative: Downe, Hammonton, Salem, Willingboro, Winslow, and Woodbury.
Throughout spring 2022, community members from each of these towns will participate in trainings led and designed by community-engaged reporting experts from Journalism + Design at The New School.
This humanities-infused approach will give more New Jerseyans the tools to effectively tell and share stories from and with their communities—and lay the groundwork for similar statewide programming in the future.
SPRING 2022 TRAININGS
“Community Scribes: Leading Grassroots Storytelling in South Jersey”
A workshop series from Journalism + Design and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities
NJCH will host a series of free virtual trainings for select participants from Transform South Jersey communities as a hands-on exploration of how journalism and design practices can identify and amplify important local stories and information. Led by faculty and staff from Journalism + Design at The New School, these workshops will give participants the tools to develop community-powered storytelling projects that speak to the unique needs, experiences and insights of people in TSJ communities.
Workshops will run between 90 and 120 minutes.
Participants will learn how to:
- Identify and share important stories in their communities
- Use design thinking, a process for creative problem solving, to develop a community-centered storytelling project
- Conduct empathetic interviews and find credible information
- Produce stories from their community in a variety of formats
Workshop 1: What’s news to you? Discuss the fundamentals of civic journalism and surface key issues and stories that need to be told.
Workshop 2: Designing a community storytelling project. Use the basics of design thinking to develop a plan for how to best share stories and information in your community.
Workshop 3: Thinking like a journalist. Learn techniques for finding credible information and gathering insights from people in your community.
Workshop 4: TBD skills-share on story production. Deep dive on particular skills or concepts, such as writing first-person narratives or social media, that will help participants produce their projects. We'll source topics from participants' preferences and project needs.
About Journalism + Design
Journalism + Design is an undergraduate program at The New School and a lab dedicated to nurturing a resilient free press that serves a healthy democracy. Through workshops, events, and community programs, we equip journalists, students and community members with the tools they need to become stronger information leaders. We are a place for playful experimentation, nurturing new ideas and creative approaches that strengthen access to reliable news and information.
- Frank Burkhauser
- Jocelyn Centrone
- Kimberly Centrone
- Debbie Esposito
- Mika Fields
- Renee Giustino
- Lisaraye Horne
- Patricia Lindsay-Harvey
- Denise Mazzeo
- Catherine Navas-Folgar
- Sade Osuji
- Christy Phillips Renzulli
- Renee Pistone
- Leila Quatorze
- Shoanne Seijas
- Lisa Seitles
- Sam Seitles
- Barry Stevenson
- Joe Thomas
- Jamie Warner
- Meghan Wren
Featured Scribe: Leila Quatorze
Representing: Winslow Township, NJ
Leila is a sophomore at Winslow Township High School. She hopes that being a Community Scribe will teach her how to better their school newspaper and take the skills with her on her next step.
She says her favorite part of community scribe training has been the workshop session "Thinking Like a Journalist"!
NJCH had a great time at Fresh Friday with Willingboro Heart and Soul and some of our Community Scribes! (9/2/22). From L to R:
- Dwayne Harris, Willingboro Township Manager
- Valerie Popp, NJCH
- Mika Fields, NJCH Community Scribe and Willingboro Community Development Corporation Project Coordinator
- Samantha Whitfield, Willingboro Township Deputy Mayor
- Kaya McIntosh, Willingboro Township Mayor
- Erik Estrada, Community Foundation of South Jersey
Photo credit: Erik James Montgomery
The New Jersey Council for the Humanities wishes to thank the Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Community Foundation of South Jersey and Journalism + Design at The New School for their partnership.
At NJCH, we believe that everyone should have access to humanities programming. Based on your organization and desired topics/formats, we offer programs—often subsidized by our federal and corporate funding—so that you can bring high quality humanities programs to your audiences.