API Summit: Creating a Culture of Listening

The American Press Institute held an invitation-only Thought Leader Summit on newsroom listening and dialogue projects on Tuesday, March 27, 2018 in Nashville, TN.

Creating a Culture of Listening: Using Dialogue to Bridge Divides gathered community-minded journalists, editors and nonprofit leaders who are pioneers of listening and dialogue projects in journalism. The event brought together people with a range of titles, all of whom have hands-on experience or big ideas on the ways journalists can better understand and serve the whole of their communities.

This summit built on API efforts to support newsroom practices that help news organizations serve the range of diverse audiences in their communities. At a time of eroding trust in news organizations and increasing polarization in politics, part of the solution is for newsrooms to use listening and dialogue to form deeper connections, understanding and trust across communities. At our summit, we held in-depth discussions on how to create organizational cultures that embrace listening, effective strategies for facilitating dialogue among divided community groups, and other topics.

Unlike a typical conference, the intimate, interactive summit allows each attendee to be an active participant, sharing their expertise and experiences while gaining actionable insights from others. Discussion topics for the day were surfaced in advance by invitees before arrival at the The Tennessean, our host for the event (and a news organization that is hosting in-person listening events with specific Nashville populations it wants to better understand and serve).

Following the event, ideas and practices from the day were distilled into a public resource, “How a culture of listening strengthens reporting and relationships.” Cole Goins, a community engagement consultant and former director of community engagement at Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, assisted in planning the day and authored the resource.

Participating organizations included, among others:

100 Days in Appalachia

Alabama Media Group

Bay Area News Group

Bowling Green Daily News

By the Bay

Chalkbeat TN

City Bureau

Colorado Public Radio

The Coral Project

Dallas Morning News

The Daily Yonder


The Evergrey


Free Press

The Guardian

The GroundTruth Project


Jefferson Center

Listening Post Collective

Membership Puzzle Project

Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media

National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation

Ohio County Monitor

On Being Project

Outlier Media

Peoria Journal Star


Richland Source

Solutions Journalism Network

St. Louis Public Radio

Syracuse University

Temple University

Texas Tribune

The Tyler Loop


Space is limited at API Thought Leader Summits and participation is by invitation only; however, people interested in participating may apply for consideration. We look for individuals and organizations advancing the summit’s topic area, with efforts to show. We believe a diversity of lived experiences, skill sets and backgrounds makes these events successful.

For more information, contact Kevin Loker, API’s director of program operations and partnerships, at kevin.loker@pressinstitute.org.