Democracy Fund Re-Launches Engaged Journalism Lab


In an effort to gain American’s trust in media again, Democracy Fund is re-launching its Engaged Journalism Lab. The Lab will focus on the organizations and people helping build more meaningful, trusted relationships with their communities using audience-driven storytelling.

While there have been previous efforts to improve how news outlets interact with the communities they serve, the Lab strives to showcase new ideas and solutions through original posts, research and content from evaluation reports. Managed by Paul Waters and Lea Trusty, the Lab is still in an experimental phase, but they said they plan to “open up conversations and questions (the) network is dealing with to a broader audience who may have solutions we have not yet explored.”

Paul Waters

The idea to re-launch the Lab on Medium was inspired by similar work being done by Teresa Gorman at the Local News Lab, also a Democracy Fund project. When the Local News Lab became a standalone website, the Engaged Journalism Lab took over the Medium page. The revamped page was created as a way to create conversations with organizations and to invite colleagues in the field working toward the same goals to publish their findings.

“We hope to provide original content, research, and analysis alongside posts that highlight the work of others to further this discussion,” said Trusty and Waters. “We also expect to continue going to localities and conferences to raise up important projects and models, like Your Voice Ohio and Listening Post Collective, which push the status quo and expand how outlets think about their journalism.”

As their audience grows, the duo looks forward to being able to experiment with other concepts, like the deep listening of Hearken and GroundSource, the more complex understanding of data like Metrics for News, and the authentic interaction with comments like Talk, a platform through the Coral Project.

In the future, they plan to follow up on their first report, “Funding Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Journalism” that closely examined 990 reports for the 90 and more organizations. Additionally, they are exploring work around ethnic media in the United States, and the connection between the engagement funnel and revenue.

“We’re excited to learn and grow with organizations supporting journalism across the country, news outlets, and journalists as they work to create coverage that better serves their community,” said Trusty and Waters. “We also expect to continue to play a connecting role with our grantee and partner networks of individuals and institutions interested in creating a more inclusive and authentic journalism.”

For more information about the Lab, visit


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