Dodge Foundation Week in Review

Posted on by Dodge


Posted in News & Announcements | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Media, Millennials and Making News That Matters

Posted on by Josh Stearns


Comparing the findings of two youth media studies a decade apart and what they tell us about reporting with and for our communities.

Local news sites — especially online only digitally native newsrooms — should be investing deeply building relationships and serving younger news audiences.


A new study from the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research provides new insights into what Millennials want from news and how they discover and consume it. The report, How Millennials Get Their News, suggests a number of key things local newsrooms can do to better serve and connect with younger audiences in their communities. However, I want to pair some of the findings from this new report with a very different report from more than a decade ago.

In 2002 the Youth Media Council in Oakland California released, Speaking for Ourselves: A Youth Assessment of Local News, a youth driven report (PDF link) on local media coverage of young people and the issues that matter to them. The report is an important examination of local media’s coverage of youth and youth issues, and includes a useful set of recommendations which I explore below. And while 2002 was before YouTube, Facebook and even Myspace had launched, the recommendations in the report are still timely today.

Taken together, these two reports illustrate how much news habits have changed with digital technology, but inclusion and engagement are common threads that connect them across the past decade. Young people continue to want to help shape the news that shapes their lives.

Inside the News Habits of “America’s First Digital Generation”

First, let’s look at the findings of the new research released:

Millennials Want News and See It As a Public Good

Recently the Pew Research Center released a study that illustrated a enormous hunger for meaningful local news and information in cities across the United States. The report released today reinforces this desire for hard news. 85 percent of respondents said that keeping up with the news was important to them and 40 percent say they pay for one news-specific app, service or subscription. However, others quoted in the report suggested that the civic importance of journalism means access to news should be free to all.

“Millennials are more likely to report following politics, crime, technology, their local community, and social issues than report following popular culture and celebrities, or style and fashion,” the authors write. “Fully 45 percent of these young adults regularly follow five or more ‘hard news’ topics.” There are always biases built into self-reported findings like this, but even so this study suggests that Millennials value public interest reporting.

Millennials Value Credibility and Transparency

According to the research, “civic motivations (74 percent), problem-solving (63 percent), and social factors (67 percent)” drive Millennials’ interest in news. And when Millennials want to follow a story or learn more news sites are the second most popular place for them to look, only after search.

For many, social networks are a starting place. Even when they don’t go there intending to look for news, Millennials are confronted with an array fo reporting. Social media is an engine for discovering news, but only 7 percent see it as a resource for learning more or digging deeper. When Millennials want to follow a story or dig deeper into an issue they look for sites they can trust. And notably, that trust is often rooted in transparency. Respondents commented specifically on a site’s use of links and references as a quality they look for.

Nothing About Us Without Us

Shifting now to the 2002 research, we find less about how youth consume the news and more about the content of news available to them in their local communities. The 2002 report, Speaking for Ourselves: A Youth Assessment of Local News, focused interviews with local youth and on content analysis of one station in Oakland, but drew on an array of other research to provide a larger context. The study explores how media coverage of race, poverty, education, and crime tends to criminalize youth behavior. The report calls for a shift “in the balance of power between news media and youth, giving youth and their communities a real public voice.”

The American Press Study found that Millennials were drawn to news where they saw themselves and their issues represented, especially when that coverage emphasized the potential for young people to make positive change. “I have so much faith in my generation to change the course of this country,” said one respondent in the study, “and I love seeing that play out in the news, whether it be through health care changes, gay marriage acceptance, sexual education and access to information, and race issues.”

But for most of the people in the 2002 Youth Media Council report they rarely saw themselves or their communities reflected back to them in local news:

“The distance between the experiences and conditions of youth and the news stories about us is a landscape of media bias in which myths become public opinion and lies become public policy. We can transform media bias into media justice by building strong relationships between news outlets and youth organizations, and increasing dialogue between journalists and youth community members. […] It is therefore critical to our survival that journalists and communities work in partnership to report on public policy issues that frame the contours of our conditions and draw the boundaries that define our lives.”

In many ways, the youth who compiled that 2002 report were calling for the kinds of community engagement we are only just beginning to see get traction now. And even within many engaged newsrooms there is still a gap when it comes to building the kinds of deep reciprocal relationships described above.

Nine Recommendations for Covering Youth with Youth

While the Millennial report illustrates that how we cover issues of concern to young people is important to how they engage with the news, it doesn’t provide a lot of concrete recommendations in terms of shaping that coverage. That is a place where the 2002 Youth Media Council report can be useful.

They offer nine recommendations for local newsrooms who want to improve their coverage of youth, particularly around issues of education, poverty and crime (which they found often dominate local news coverage of youth). In these recommendations we see the seeds of ideas — such as solutions journalism —that are currently gaining currency within journalism. What follows are shortened versions of their recommendations, download the full PDF for a longer discussion of each.

  1. Avoid episodic stories about individual incidents of crime reported out of proportion to their actual occurrence and balance stories about youth and crime with stories about youth poverty, education, and youth organizing.
  2. Link racial bias to inequity in stories about crime, education, and poverty.
  3. Let youth speak for themselves in stories about youth. In our study we found that the voices of white adults were amplified in stories about us, while the voices of youth, especially youth of color, were marginalized.
  4. Balance news coverage of youth by quoting youth advocates and public defenders.
  5. Highlight root causes and trends. In the coverage we examined, we found that root causes went unreported. Causes that were identified focused primarily on the negative behavior of the youth.
  6. Examine solutions other than increased punishment and incarceration. A lack of solutions limits the public understanding of crime, education, and poverty, as well as denying the public an opportunity to think critically about the policy solutions currently being offered.
  7. Balance the portrayal of white youth and youth of color. We believe that the amount of information offered about a young person beyond the criminal incident gives the public a more comprehensive understanding of the causes of crime as well as injecting a broader range of solutions into the debate.
  8. Challenge the myth of rising youth crime and violence. Make it policy in all coverage of juvenile crime or violence to provide accurate information and statistics about the rate of youth crime and violence.
  9. Link social problems to public policy. Public policy is a key component of democratic political participation. It is one way the public engages in challenging and fixing social problems. When incidents that illustrate the conditions of our lives are reported without an exploration of their relationship to public policy, we have less opportunity for political participation.

At the end of the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research report the researchers asked young people what they saw or hoped for in terms of the future of news. The feedback they got has resonances with the recommendations above from 2002.

“I want the news to find a balance. That’s my most important thing. I don’t want to turn on the news and just see nothing but negativity and you know, nothing but sadness,” said Sam, age 19 in San Francisco. “Like I found out the Richmond death rate or homicide rate has been the lowest in many years. I found that out from social media. I didn’t find that out from the news.”

Another San Francisco respondent told the researchers he is “waiting for journalists of his generation to come to the fore and speak in ways that are more relevant to him.” Like the Youth Media Council in 2002 suggested deeper collaboration between journalists and youth, Devon suggested that media need to “bring someone else along” to help them speak to their generation. (See how one journalist in East Palo Alto is tackling these issues.)

Across these two reports one thing stands out. Young people care deeply about the news and they want to be active participants in creating, not just consuming, media that matters to them.

Josh Stearns is the Director of Journalism and Sustainability at the Dodge Foundation. This post first appeared on the blog of The Local News Lab, a Dodge project supported by the Knight Foundation, dedicated to creative experiments in journalism sustainability.

Posted in Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dodge Week in Review

Posted on by Dodge

Posted in News & Announcements, Tidbits | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sustainable Jersey: To Get to Gold, First Define the Goal

Posted on by By Melanie McDermott, Senior Researcher, Sustainable Jersey

2015 New Jersey Sustainability Report and Summit


“Recalculating,” the GPS voice said again.

Turning the car around, I reasoned that the gadget, although stern, was kind enough to provide an estimated time of arrival despite my wrong turns.

My thoughts immediately turned to my work leading Sustainable Jersey’s collaborative effort to develop New Jersey’s goals and indicators for sustainability: Isn’t a GPS for New Jersey, a simple device that points us to the goal, just what we’re after?

Task forces, local officials, Board members, green teams, schools and community members have all been working together for some time — dedicated to the goal of making New Jersey a sustainable state.


But without a ‘GPS,’ how will we know if we are headed in the right direction, or correcting course quickly enough? In fact, even a ‘GPS’ is useless unless we’ve entered our desired destination, which in this case means we’ve articulated a clear vision of what a sustainable New Jersey would look like. Only then can we measure progress towards or away from that direction.

To meet this challenge, for the last few years, Sustainable Jersey has been engaged in a collaborative process to outline the multiple dimensions of sustainability in terms of practical goals with indicators that describe observable outcomes at the state level. Indicators help us recognize milestones on the road to sustainability: taking their readings provides a report card on performance.

No A’s for effort – only for results!

For example if your goal is to lose weight, we’re not interested in your caloric intake or the amount of time spent on the treadmill: the indicator is what the scale says.

The process of developing goals and indicators for New Jersey is a little more complicated. For one thing, some outcomes like energy and climate change are clearly global in scope. In those cases, we need to figure out a proportionate goal for New Jersey.

For other goals, such as water quality and health and wellness, we will identify reasonable values for individual, local or regional indicators that can be combined to determine appropriate targets for the state.


Building on the series of reports prepared for the 2013 Sustainability Summit at Duke Farms and the feedback since received, Sustainable Jersey will launch the first in a new series of Sustainability State of the State Reports at the 2015 New Jersey Sustainability Summit on June 10.

The 2015 Sustainability State of the State Report will provide the vision, goals and indicators for each sustainability outcome and present current data and past trends leading up to the 2014 baseline year. We will establish a template for future years, providing an annual ‘dashboard’ view that will capture progress and illuminate danger zones.

How are we doing, New Jersey? Come join us to find out.

With over 400 municipalities and 150 schools and districts participating in Sustainable Jersey, now is the time to ask big questions. The New Jersey Sustainability Summit will provide an understanding of how we are doing as a state. Through educational sessions designed to share existing efforts and test emerging best practices, attendees will take home valuable resources to make progress in the community.

Participants will come away with a clear sense of the state of the movement, a new community of fellow practitioners and the inspiration to go back to their own communities and start making change from the community up.

2015 New Jersey Sustainability Summit
June 10, 2015, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The College of New Jersey, Ewing

Twelve Educational Sessions
Experts and industry professionals will present real-life case studies, success stories and challenges for the following areas:

• Arts & Culture
• Community Information & Civic Engagement
• Energy Efficiency
• Alternative Energy Options
• Green Infrastructure
• Social Equity & Health
• Land Use &Transportation
• Local Economies
• Natural Resources
• Education, Skills & Enrichment
• Waste (Solid Waste, Toxics)
• Water

Gold-Level Sustainable Jersey Certification
With the Sustainability State of the State Report and the Sustainability Summit, Sustainable Jersey opens a new and exciting chapter in our evolution – moving certification from the bronze and silver levels to spinning gold! Only when state-level goals are in place will we have a basis for determining the ‘fair share’ each municipality and school would need to contribute towards collectively reaching them. This will make it possible to move from the prescriptive action-based standards for the bronze and silver-levels of certification to a gold-level based primarily on performance measures, demonstrating that the ‘fair share’ has been met.

While there are obstacles to sustainability which towns, cities and schools can’t tackle alone (e.g., economic trends, cross-border pollution, federal and state policy), there are many arenas where real progress can and is happening at the local level. This is the Sustainable Jersey sweet spot or point of leverage. Be a part of it!

 Connect with Sustainable Jersey on its Website and Facebook Page

Melanie McDermott is a Senior Researcher with Sustainable Jersey. Sustainable Jersey is a regular Dodge Blog contributor. 

Posted in Environment, Sustainable Jersey | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Atlantic City Gets Creative at Call to Collaboration

Posted on by Kacy O’Brien, Creative New Jersey
AC_opening circle
Creative Atlantic City welcomed over 135 people to the two-day Call to Collaboration.

More than 135 people gathered at The Noyes Arts Garage at Stockton University for Creative Atlantic City’s Call to Collaboration on February 23 and 24. Those people were ready. Ready to talk — and do.

AC_homeowner breakout

This two-day gathering was part of Creative New Jersey’s statewide series of community-based convenings, aimed at helping to fuel current efforts already in action in Atlantic City and to foster creativity, innovation, and sustainability by facilitating cross-sector partnerships. Creative Atlantic City participants represented a wide array of industries, cultures, ethnicities, and viewpoints including healthcare, economic development and business leaders, education, law enforcement, municipal government, arts and culture, tourism, philanthropy, social service, as well as a mix of residents, civic leaders and those who work in Atlantic City.

NJTV captured the atmosphere in a news segment that aired on the first day of the convening. The energy and passion was palpable during the 44-plus conversations and action plans — on topics as diverse as the participants — that were generated over the course of the two days.

Topics included:

• How do reduce we silos and increase collaboration?
• How do we encourage new business in Atlantic City?
• How do we get the necessary education and training to implement a Creative Placemaking project?
• How do we attract people to reside and invest in AC, especially through the arts?
• How do we foster community involvement and a planning process to engage the minority community?
• How do we create a clean and safe environment that encourages growth, productivity, and a sense of well-being?
• What are actionable steps to grow the business community in Atlantic City?
• How do we encourage increased gender, ethnic and racial political representation in Atlantic City?
• How do we create a community-driven structure to advance and resource the work of AC?
• How can AC reengage its disenfranchised population (i.e. at-risk youth, the homeless, and individuals with criminal records)?


On Day Two of the Call to Collaboration, participants focused on action planning and next steps. Four groups merged into one as the interconnectedness of business development and entrepreneurship, creative industries, technology, and healthcare emerged. The Business Growth group stayed together for the entirety of the day to solidify task forces and next steps to move ideas and initiatives forward, including the launch of a Facebook Group to get people involved in their efforts.

For more detailed information on these topics, including a full list of all ideas discussed, the notes from those discussions and the names of the individuals involved, visit our website to download a copy of the complete notes. You can also join the Creative Atlantic City Facebook Group to jump in and get involved.

We are extremely grateful to our Creative Atlantic City sponsors and partners who joined us in making this Call to Collaboration possible. They are: The Noyes Arts Garage at Stockton University, The Richard Stockton University, and Bally’s, plus our generous restaurant partners: Carmine’s, Formica Bros. Baker, Ginsburg Bakery and Cher Bread.

Michael Cagno, Director of The Noyes Museum Arts Garage at Stockton University and Creative AC Host Team member Councilman Alex Marino with fellow participants.

If you want to learn more about what’s happening in the Atlantic City or want to be connected to any of the Creative Atlantic City Host Team members or participants, please reach out to us at and we will connect you with them. You can also visit Creative NJ’s new website for more information on this Call to Collaboration and how you get join the statewide movement.

NJRF Logo color v3Creative New Jersey gratefully acknowledges the support of the New Jersey Recovery Fund. Launched by the Community Foundation of New Jersey and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Fund supports the nonprofit sector and local communities as they pursue a thoughtful plan to help rebuild New Jersey, and to ensure that the long-term needs of the state are being met as effectively as possible.

Kacy O’Brien is the Program Manager at Creative New Jersey. Creative New Jersey is dedicated to fostering creativity, innovation, and sustainability by empowering cross-sector partnerships in commerce, education, philanthropy, government, and culture in order to ensure dynamic communities and a thriving economy. Creative New Jersey’s leaders and partners are regular contributors to the Dodge Blog.

Photos are courtesy of Greg Alber, Sea Shore Photos


Posted in Community Building, Creative NJ | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment