The Illinois Newsroom, a regional journalism collaboration focused on expanding access to trusted information education, political impact and health/environment, is reaching audiences through an in-person event series called News & Brews.
The events are based on the newsroom’s long-form reporting projects or big state-wide issues. Events are held at public locations like breweries, restaurants and cafes; it’s a series similar to ones that many media outlets have taken on in recent years.
“Traditionally, conversation over meals and drinks is one of the best ways information gets transferred and contextualized in communities,” Kristin Walters, Illinois Newsroom engagement strategist, said when asked what inspired the series. “It makes sure the stories we report take on a bigger life and we can be sure that those most interested in the topic get as much information as they want.”
So far, there have been eight News & Brews events. The first was held in June 2018, which dealt with trauma-informed education practices. Other topics have included prison libraries, the midterm elections and marijuana legalization.
The event typically consists of a 35 to 40 minute talk with two or three panelists and a host, and a 30-minute Q&A section. Events can attract anywhere from 30 to 120 people depending on the location or topic, Walters said.
When asked about the importance of this kind of journalism, Walters responded, “The more communities can have focused conversations about big issues, the more informed their actions can be towards bettering their lives—this is the reason journalism exists, and it’s only better with more participants.”
To see the Illinois Newsroom’s News & Brews Event Guide, visit http://bit.ly/NewsandBrewsGuide.