The American Press Institute is continuing to help news organizations reimagine local opinion journalism to promote healthier civic discourse and to better understand its role in news business sustainability.
As part of our work, we are “passing the mic” to people in opinion sections and out to share what they are doing on this topic.
How can opinion journalism effectively expand the range of voices it represents in traditional sections and other platforms? What can opinion editors and writers continue to learn from bridge-builders, civic groups and other experts outside of journalism about facilitating healthy civic discourse? In what ways can and should opinion and commentary drive revenue and business sustainability?
These are the kinds of questions we’re asking. We began exploring them with more than 60 people, including local opinion editors and experts outside of journalism, at our 2023 API Local News Summit on Opinion, Civic Discourse and Sustainability.
Read the essays below:
- “How local opinion sections can transform into public forums: Insights from public deliberation.” Martín Carcasson, founder of the Colorado State University Center for Public Deliberation, details how deliberative practice can help shape local opinion coverage. One result, Coloradoan Conversations, has built quality interactions and engagement within The Coloradoan’s opinion section.
- “Clarify your opinion product’s mission to boost audience financial support.” The Flip Side, a newsletter that shares a variety of curated op-eds and commentary on one topic, is largely user funded. Annafi Wahed details what she and her team did to boost fundraising from their audience.
- “Invest in staff to grow local opinion journalism’s reach with diverse communities.” After the 2020 racial reckoning, NJ Advance Media reinvested and diversified its opinion section to shape coverage of New Jersey’s diverse communities. Robin Wilson-Glover, director of digital opinion, writes how she reshaped her department and NJ.com’s opinion section.
- “Bring constructive conflict to local opinion journalism.” Newsrooms are teaming up with Good Conflict to host in-person conversations about polarizing issues, and the results are promising. Hélène Biandudi Hofer, cofounder of Good Conflict, shares techniques to invite meaningful discussion and how newsrooms can incorporate them into their opinion sections.
They follow additional reflections from news leaders published in 2019, when API first convened opinion editors and bridge-builders outside of news.
To learn more about this work and potential opportunities to participate, please contact Kevin Loker, director of strategic partnerships and research, at firstname.lastname@example.org.