Ten journalists from news organizations across the country will receive support from the American Press Institute for year-long projects that help their newsrooms start more of their journalism from community listening.

The journalists, or 2019-20 Community Listening Fellows, will receive in-person and remote training and support on how to employ listening strategies to inform their journalism and to help them represent and serve their communities better. The program also involves guidance on organizational culture and change from API and support from expert advisers on community listening, who will work with API, the fellows and the fellows’ newsroom colleagues to refine and enhance the projects. At the end of the year, the fellows will reconvene to review takeaways and look ahead to ways to continue weaving community listening into their organizational culture.

API’s 2019-20 Community Listening Fellows include journalists from English and Spanish-language newspapers, public radio and TV, low-power radio and digital-only nonprofits. They serve rural, suburban and urban communities across the country, in states such as Montana, Idaho, Wisconsin, Texas and New York. The full list is below:

James Causey
Ideas Lab Reporter
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee, WI

Sami Edge

Sami Edge
Idaho Education News
Boise, ID

Eric Falquero

Eric Falquero
Editorial Director
Street Sense Media
Washington, DC

Yoshi James
Photojournalist | Video producer
San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco, CA

Liliana López Ruelas
Latinx Engagement Editor
Arizona Daily Star / La Estrella de Tucsón
Tucson, AZ

Felicia Mason
Assistant City Editor
Houston Chronicle
Houston, TX

Steve Mencher
News Director
Northern California Public Media
Rohnert Park, CA

Kamna Shastri
Independent Journalist
KVRU 105.7 FM
Seattle, WA

Mazin Sidahmed
New York, NY

Eric Whitney
News Director
Montana Public Radio
Missoula, MT

A total of 50 journalists from 22 states plus the District of Columbia applied for the new program, which is supported by the News Integrity Initiative at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.

We were thrilled to see the widespread desire from journalists and newsrooms across the country to start more journalism from a place of listening,” said Amy Kovac-Ashley, API’s director of newsroom learning and the co-leader of this program. “It’s clear to us at API that this is an important muscle to develop and exercise. In today’s environment of distrust and in a world of information overload, the news organizations that focus first on better understanding the people they want to serve will be the ones that thrive.”

The fellows will meet together for the first time in late July to get to know one another and learn more from experts leading listening and engagement work in news today, including among others:


Ashley Alvarado
Director of Community Engagement
Southern California Public Radio
Los Angeles, CA

Sandra Clark
VP for News and Civic Dialogue
Philadelphia, PA

Letrell Crittenden
Program Manager and Assistant Professor of Communication
Jefferson University
Philadelphia, PA

Joy Mayer
Trusting News
Sarasota, FL

“We appreciate the opportunity to support this program, and to facilitate connections between journalists who have a desire to do this work with leaders who are innovating it,” said Kevin Loker, API’s director or program operations and partnerships, and the other co-leader of this program. “We’re looking forward to adding our own bit of culture change support to that mix — to help engrain this spirit into newsrooms beyond the scope of the project — and we can’t wait to learn more from everyone involved as well.”

During and following the kickoff event, fellows will refine their project focus and envision how they will begin to engage the communities they want to better serve. Several fellows are working to listen better to low-income, immigrant, and specific racial or ethnic groups who have traditionally been underserved in their localities.

To receive updates about the program, including what the fellows above are learning about pursuing this shift in their newsroom, sign up here.

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