By Jennifer Brandel and jesikah maria ross

Journalists are curious and excel at asking questions. But given the demands most of us work under – from deadline pressure to distributing our reporting to actively and relationally engaging our community – it’s rare that we deploy the skill set of asking good questions on ourselves. We aren’t the story and there is so little time, and yet exploring questions is one of the best ways to expand our thinking and try on new perspectives. Questions are an act of care, both for our communities, our journalism and ourselves.

Pick a few of these questions we posed during the Care Collaboratory to discuss with a friend or colleague, free-write your responses or maybe just meditate on them. Your answers might change how you approach your journalism.

Find the full essay here.

Personal questions to warm up and connect to your individual experience and purpose:

  • If you were a vending machine what advice would you dispense?
  • What brought you joy as a kid? What did you love to do?
  • Why is care important to you? Why does it matter in your storytelling work?
  • What does it feel like when you are cared for? Or when you care for others?
  • What helps make you feel emotionally safe? How can you sense it in yourself, or others?

Questions to reflect on the purpose and practices of journalism:

  • How do your natural interests and biases influence how much care you take with sources and stories?
  • What creative tactics have you used to listen better?
  • If care is not part of your institution’s culture, how can you prioritize care work (while keeping your job)?
  • An assignment budget is a record of what your newsroom values. Where does care show up in the budget?
  • What reporters or kinds of media have you been impressed by in how they care?

Radical questions that may shift how you think about journalism:

  • What would it look like to be able to bring WOO WOO (heart, love, etc.) into the newsroom and not have to apologize?
  • How, as a source, could you tell your full, true story if you have no connection with the person interviewing you?
  • Across the landscape a central feature in care is allowing people to feel seen and feel heard. So in journalism – is the product necessary? Or is the value in the process itself?
  • What is another framework that news can use that is not about efficiency, which disincentivizes care work?
  • “What if journalism’s responsibility is to distribute responsibility for care?” (Learn more by reading Chapter 4 of Meaningful Inefficiencies by Eric Gordon and Gabriel Mugar)

Dig deeper

More resources for reflecting on the questions journalists ask themselves and their communities:

Share with your network

You also might be interested in:

  • Good convening requires strong facilitation skills, influential and empathic leadership skills, and different listening skills than an interview — things many journalists likely didn’t learn or anticipate when they signed up for the job. To be good conveners, local media need resources and opportunity to equip their journalists with these skills.

  • When we looked at the latest research on how Americans view news about elections, we noted several findings local media especially may want to use to start conversations about how they gain trust this year with their community.

  • The urgency to establish more Spanish-language newsrooms or those dedicated to serving Hispanic communities cannot be overstated. We do not only need more hyper local journalism projects like ours, but we need more transparency and clarity with the existing media organizations.