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Identifying Information Needs in Newark and The Future of Local News

Brit Harley

A new collaborative study has revealed what Newark residents feel they need the most.  

WBGO Community Engagement Reporter Brit Harley chats with Vanessa Maria Graber of the Free Press about the results of the study that shows some of the top priorities are getting timely and useful information about food and education, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

Graber is the newest member of Free Press and is now focusing much of her work on Newark.

"Free Press is an organization works on a number of media policy issues.  We advocate for access to communication.  We advocate for fair and equitable media.  We also have a really cool project called "News Voices" which takes place in several different states including New Jersey which seeks to engage journalists, community members and other stakeholders on how to best meet people's information needs and how to reframe different conversations."

Vaness Maria Graber
Credit Free Press
Vanessa Maria Graber of Free Press

Graber says one of the things that has been challenging during the pandemic is how to communicate with people.

"Normally, we would have these conversations in person.  There's a lot more in-person outreach that happens.  People see their neighbors, co-workers and allies a lot more.  So when this idea was conceived the biggest question was how do we best reach people?  So, Outlier Media specializes in text message-based research and they've used this model in Detroit to ask people what their biggest questions are.  They came together with us in New Jersey, we are also doing this project in Atlantic City and Camden, but we started with Newark to ask them what kinds of information they needed.  That survey took place over the course of a week and we got some really interesting text-message responses.  It's (the report) is on the Center for Cooperative Media's website if you want to check it out in-depth."  

Click the top of the page to hear the entire conversation.