Ohio Journalism’s Collaborative Commentary Sets Agenda

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2020 a year like no other.

It’s no surprise that people get stressed out when sorting through unprecedented volumes of information (some is intentionally misleading), worrying about how to be safe and healthy, and paying the bills.

In this turbulent landscape, reliable information related to the 2020 presidential election has become increasingly urgent and important. In an effort to meet the information needs of Ohioans, more than 40 news organizations from the Your Voice Ohio media collective, including The Advocate, will work together over the next five months to provide relevant and important information regarding the election. presidential election of 2020.

Your Voice Ohio’s Election 2020 project will explore the complexity of the state’s nearly 12 million people through community engagement, data analysis and collaborative reporting. Media partners will engage audiences in producing a series of stories focusing on issues most important to Ohioans and showcasing the presidential candidates’ agendas so voters can determine who they think is the best path forward to move forward. our country.

“Hearing from residents about issues that are important to their lives will help us determine what to cover in the future,” said Benjamin Lanka, Editor-in-Chief of Advocate.

Your Voice Ohio is looking for volunteers for no less than 20 two-hour deliberative engagement sessions that will be held online from July through November. These conversations will help ensure that the election coverage produced by the collaboration is shaped directly by Ohio residents. Participants will be selected from among volunteers to best reflect state demographics and will be compensated $ 125 for participating in a single engagement session. To volunteer, visit YourVoiceOhio.org/election2020. The first round of volunteers will begin to be selected by Wednesday.

The first digital conversations and a set of collaborative stories will focus on the 2020 presidential campaign and election. In addition to engagement sessions with reporters, Your Voice Ohio will also sponsor a statewide poll, which will be conducted in July by the Center for Opinion and Marketing Research and co-authored with the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at Akron University. The following conversations and stories will focus on specific issues such as healthcare, economics or education – which will be identified and selected through surveys and engagements.

According to Kyle Bozentko, executive director of the Jefferson Center, a non-partisan, nonprofit organization that coordinates Your Voice Ohio, media partners have successfully used deliberative civic engagement to produce innovative, community-focused coverage on issues such as the 2016 presidential election, opioids, drug addiction, and the recovery, and the future of the economy. Previous community conversations sponsored by local media have shown a deep desire to rebuild relationships between people with different life experiences, find common ground and work together to improve their communities.

The issues Ohio residents wanted to address were affordable housing in every community, jobs with living wages and benefits, affordable and accessible health care, access to mental health services without negative stigma, accessible and quality education, safe neighborhoods, access to fresh food, accessible public transportation and inviting places to live, with parks, recreation and the arts. Racial and economic fairness was a priority for the people of Ohio before this spring.

Building on what has been learned from previous experience, Your Voice Ohio media partners are uniquely positioned to engage with Ohio residents and collaborate on their coverage of upcoming elections. “Local Ohio media are working together and being creative on behalf of their communities by inviting residents to play a fundamental role in shaping coverage of the presidential election and identifying issues that matter to them the most, ”said Bozentko.

About the project

Your Voice Ohio is the nation’s largest statewide supported media collaboration. Launched almost five years ago, over 60 media outlets have participated in unique community coverage of elections, drug addiction, racial equity, the economy and housing. Nearly 1,300 Ohioans engaged with more than 100 reporters in dozens of urban, rural and suburban communities across the state. Time and time again, the people of Ohio have helped reporters understand their perspectives and experiences while sharing ideas to strengthen their local communities and the state. The Democracy Fund, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and Facebook are major funders of Your Voice Ohio. To learn more about Your Voice Ohio, visit www.yourvoiceohio.org. To learn more about the Jefferson Center, visit www.jefferson-center.org.

Doug Oplinger was a reporter for the Akron Beacon Journal for 46 years, before becoming editor in 2017 to manage and edit the media portion of the Your Voice Ohio project. The Jefferson Center is a St. Paul-based, non-profit, non-partisan organization with a 50-year history in community engagement and research, the past eight years in conjunction with the Beacon Journal and the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics from Akron University. .


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