Portland conference tackles trust, involvement and storytelling

White board with words and drawings

With the terms “fake news” landing in headlines almost every day, it’s a challenge for journalists and educators to define not only what news is but also where it comes from and how it’s shaped. It’s also become a moment of opportunity to consider the role of storytelling and journalism in civic life.

That’s the focus of “Elevate Engagement: Communities and Journalism Taking Listening, Connection and Trust to the Next Level,” a conference co-hosted by the Agora Journalism Center and Journalism That Matters on May 18-21 at the Turnbull Center in Portland.

A follow-up to 2015’s conference, "Experience Engagement," that focused on how journalism and communities could work together, co-organizer and Chair in Media Innovation and Civic Engagement in the UO School of Journalism and Communication Andrew DeVigal said the last conference helped bring the community of practice and engaged journalists together to help create a space for people to experience what the industry and educators have been talking about in relation to storytelling and involving the community.

“This year, our hope is to expand that community to amplify and elevate the work being done by many journalists across the country who are working to redefine journalists’ relationship with their community,” he said.

During Elevate Engagement, approximately 130 attendees will come from across the country to participate in “unconference” activities that model a practice used for community engagement.

DeVigal said, “I’m thrilled to collaborate with Peggy Holman, the executive director of Journalism That Matters, again as this format helps to create and foster a space to allow a diversity of people who don’t normally talk to each other to come and learn from new perspectives. That’s when new ideas and, perhaps, even solutions emerge.”

Not only are journalism faculty and students attending, but they will also play key parts in listening and gathering data to “make sense of the whole of the event,” DeVigal added.

Topics such as how communities can have more complete storytelling about civic life, how journalists can engage more fully in civic life while maintaining credibility and trust, and the best tools and techniques for community connection will be discussed and examined during the several-day event.

“I believe that the stories we hear, the examples of engaged journalism projects that we’ll learn from, and the connections made will undoubtedly inform new ways not just to teach but also practice journalism,” DeVigal said.

By Laurie Notaro, UO Communications