Two More Legs Stretch The Community Forum

One in a continuing series.

Let’s widen the Community Forum strategy.

One of the Relevance Project’s priorities is to help newspapers, working with their state or provincial association, become THE Community Forum. Because a community is in many ways an overabundance of conversations, the local newspaper is in the best position to orchestrate civil, civic discourse to help citizens make sense of issues of importance, exchange different views, and explore what makes a community tick.

The newspaper as master moderator builds bridges, increases awareness and understanding, deepens knowledge, and inspires problem-solvers and the commitment to a better quality of life.

Because trust is the foundation, newspapers should start with community discussions about keeping local journalism strong and the role it plays in an enlightened democracy.

In a recent Relevant Point, I listed several topics that can be used to attract an audience while launching the Community Forum. In essence, they all roll up under the initiative to examine the future of community newspapers.

By conversing with their communities, newspapers go beyond producing a product. They embed further in a community and reset the relationship with readers as meaningful collaborators instead of mere customers.

What’s next?

I see a second and third follow-up concentrations.

The second involves a strident initiative to improve the news literacy of a community.

The third digs into the top issues a community faces, from the controversies that divide to the positive projects that pull people together.

In future Relevant Points, I’ll explore each of these stages.

At this point, some strategists would show you a graphic of a three-legged stool.

In the Relevance Project’s initiatives, the Community Forum is a platform to relaunch the newspaper’s future.

One leg is all about the newspaper and its reputation as a trusted source of news and information.

The second brings in news literacy to propel the newspaper’s credibility by building up better news consumers and countering misinformation.

The third involves community issues — vexing problems, stalemates, potential solutions, expansion of strengths, and, once again, ingredients for a higher quality of life for all.

I usually resist using a three-legged stool since it’s been carted out so many times.

But it works with the Community Forum.

Besides.

The moderator could use a seat to check the progress of an enlightened democracy.

–Tom Silvestri

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