Day 1: America Amplified 3.0 is launching a nationwide initiative this summer aimed at increasing public knowledge about the 2024 election
3:09PM Jun 20, 2023
So, I'd like to welcome Joy Lin to the stage who will introduce our speaker Alisa Barba. So, Joy.
Thanks, Stefanie, your team for bringing us all together. I love discussions that we've been having so far. I think the whole concept of civic onramps is really important. democracies and, you know, US organizations, community organizations play such an important role in bringing people along in understanding, they just don't live in a place with neighbors, they live in a place where, you know, they have a vested interest in, in taking care of each other. So, you know, I make it a point to attend the collaborative journalism summit every year. And it's been wonderful to see the momentum that has grown around collaboration thanks to the collective work of many folks in this room, and of course, the leadership of the Center for cooperative, cooperative media. My name is joylynn. I work at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. And as the steward of the federal appropriation for public media, CPB supports more than 1500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations, whose signals reached 99% of the US population, ensuring that nearly everyone living in America has free access to high quality and diverse content. Content in front of a paywall that educates informs and strengthens civil society. Public Media represents the largest nonprofit news system in the US with over 4000 journalists based at local stations. Over the past 15 years. CPP has helped sustain this ecosystem by investing more than $150 million in discretionary funds to journalism. And 44 million of that has gone towards supporting over 40 local and regional news collaborations connecting 150 public media stations in 43 states in the District of Columbia, fostering a vibrant network of local and regional newsrooms with national reach.
And as we approach the 250th anniversary of America's independence, democratic values and systems, as we discussed here are being challenged. In public media newsrooms, which are among the most trusted and well known institutions at the local level, are ideally situated to strengthen a shared understanding of the facts in their communities. facts that are critical to facilitating civil dialogue among people with divergent political viewpoints, and in an era of digital polarization, active disinformation efforts and historic levels of distrust in institutions. We believe that America amplify plays an important role in helping ensure that the public has the necessary information to fully uphold and participate in free and fair elections. And I'd like to now bring in the leader of the effort Alisa Barba, managing editor of America amplify.
Thanks, Joy. And Hi everybody. I'm really excited to share with you what we've been doing at America amplified but first, I want to say give it up for Philly, man with resolve Philly.
Then every voice every vote, I spoke to the folks that resolved Philly earlier and said you guys are just like a Petri dish for experimentation. I love what they're doing. And if we were to realize what our ambitions are for America amplified we'd love to see this replicated in every community across the United States. But we'll get there slowly but surely. So America amplified for 2020 for where our host station is why when we're working through CPV, we have to have a host station that work we work through. So w FYI. And Indianapolis is our host station. So we our ambition is to work with public media stations across the country in 2023 and 2024 to engage audiences and communities about the election and the voting process. Now what does this mean for you guys, because you're not most of you are not involved in public media. This the key to this is going to be partnerships with other news organizations and with community groups, just like we heard about in this last project. So please reach out to me at the end of this or at some point in the next few months and ask how you can be involved because we want you to be involved. So I'm going to give you a little bit of history.
So 2019 2020, we were, as as Joy mentioned, we're working with large collaborations within the public media landscape to try to better understand where the American electorate was in the lead up to the 2020 election to engage and understand those communities. Then we had the pandemic, a lot of our plans were up ended, as were yours. But we ended up learning a lot about Virtual Engagement, I think as many of you did. And then in 2021, and 2022, we worked with a bunch of small and medium sized stations across the country who had their own different strategies on how to engage audiences. So we employ a lot of different methods. Just a few examples here, texting clubs, from every beat reporter at wi TF and Pennsylvania, a storytelling workshop in Asheville, North Carolina, in Maine, they have a nightly news broadcast in a number of different languages to reach immigrant communities. And then, of course, some Spanish language experimentation at a small station in Northern Illinois. These are just a few examples of some of the things we did in 2021 and 20. What stations did with our support.
And then we got to the midterms, you know, there's all this anxiety about, you know, the state of democracy. And with the support of CPP, we launched a midterm election project, again, to give to try to make sure that audiences and communities had the information they needed to participate in the election. So we expanded the number of stations, we are working with 25 states, 30 stations in all, I'm moving quickly through this so that because I think we've talked about a lot of this over the course of today, we provided all of these stations with a hearken embed something that they can put on their websites, and they can use on social media basically saying, what questions do you have about participating in the midterm elections? We were looking for questions about the mechanics of voting, where can I vote? How do I apply for an absentee ballot? How do I find out if my ballot has been received? I just moved recently, what do I do? And we've received over 600 questions and answered those. The back end of this and you know, this is kind of where a massive 25 station 30 station collaboration works. This is the back end of the Harkin EMS engagement management management system. So questions would come up to us come in to us we'd get a Slack alert that a question had come in to New Hampshire Public Radio, we could view it on this platform, we could research the answer, check it with an editorial lead at that station and then send it directly back to the questioner. We also had Spanish language embeds and we had a text integral integration as well so people could text their questions in a lot of our work in America amplified was helping stations get the word out that we that stations were answering questions. We did a lot of social media stuff and we also stations got a lot got very creative. So KJ ZZ and Phoenix, for instance, printed out postcards and posters and put them up acute community colleges all across the city, and got tons of questions that way. At Michigan Public Radio, they had a Tiktok and Instagram series where the county clerk would come in and answer the questions in person very popular. We also created FAQs for stations to publish online and to do you know little broadcast bits about this and social media assets as well to share with them so similar to what every you know, every voice every vote was saying in terms of sharing these assets and sharing this cobranding along the line because many of these stations have very little bandwidth to do this kind of stuff themselves. So we're trying to increase capacity and give them the tools to do this. So 2024 is already here, it seems like and we are launching a new initiative where this time we hope to reach audiences is in all 50 states, we have a staff of three right now. So how we'll do this, we don't know, it's gonna have to get bigger. Again, as everybody says, we're trying to get beyond the political horse race with recognizing the polarization in the country and the lack of trust in media. So we are really focusing on engaged elections coverage for our stations. So not only does it help to build trust, but also it really has been proven to go a long way to to bring viewers and listeners and readers to your websites we saw, we saw a lot of a lot of our stations saw their metrics go way up when they had these kinds of articles on their website. And when they did this kind of thing online. So it was really very popular among the stations that we work with last year. So this time, we're starting really early for the midterm election prep project. We started maybe, May or June before the midterms, and we were able to supply the stations with these tools and the strategies, but it was a scramble, as we all know, newsrooms tend to not focus on the election until like mid October. This time, we're starting as early as we can, to, you know, focus on a community that you want to reach. Map out the stakeholders who are the important people there form partnerships with people like you with newsrooms, like the ones you represent, do the call outs and distribute our call outs among the partnerships that you've created, as well as your own website and on on air, gather and answer the question, answer the questions and then distribute the FAQs and then rinse and repeat, do it again. This is what we're going to be offering stations, intensive training, ongoing mentoring, access to the Harkin embed funds for a bunch of engagement activities, social media assets, impact tracking, and access to a public media election information app. Talk a little bit about all of these, I'm really going fast. I hope I'm not going too fast. So intensive training, we're going to start off with a six session bootcamp bootcamp. If any of you participated in election SOS last year, that was a really, really intensive training from a group of organizations. This is going to be an abbreviated sense of that. But the idea is to get newsrooms, we're hoping for one newsroom manager and at least one reporter producer, to get them on the same page for thinking about what their political coverage would be. The idea is to center community in your coverage rather than the politicians, and then how to do that. As we did in 2021, and 2222, if we're going to be working with 50 stations potentially, we're going to have to divide them into cohorts. And we're going to divide them into cohorts on a number of different levels and maybe the size of the station and the bandwidth that they have to do this kind of thing. It may be what audience are they targeting? Are they targeting a Spanish language speaking audience? Are they targeting rural audiences? It may be based on the level of experience they have with these kinds of engagement strategies. And we will have a trainer working with each of these cohorts, working with stations individually, and then bringing them together in a group at least once a month to kind of share best practices, do more learning and learn from each other.
So that will be over the course of 2024. Again, we'll be sharing with them a park and embed. Do everybody knows what Harkin is? Right? Good idea. Okay. I think early in the election year, they will be able to use this Harken embed to learn more about the communities that they're trying to reach. And then as we get closer to the election, we will have a uniform prompt, probably along the lines of what questions do you have about participating in the upcoming election? Last year in the midterm project, we wanted to capture questions about the mechanics of voting, but over half of the questions that came in predictably enough were about candidates and issues and judges. So we're going to be really working very hard behind the scenes to have answers to as many of those questions as we possibly can across all 50 states. We have an engagement fun where we will be able to help stations pay for translations pay for in person activities, pay for additional staff time texting services, it will be you know a case by case basis. What do you need, what can we help you with? We will have a social media strategy and a calendar again I was inspired by every voice every vote about how they did this with with a branding kid as well as with social media influencers the degree to which we can bring people in like that in every community and really get the word out there will be fantastic. Well, what has worked for us in the past and I think will be in play once again, is kind of tiers of engagement. For the most basic level, you know, you're gonna post it on your website, and you're gonna put it on social. And then on the second level, maybe you're going to do on air, you know, promotions, you're going to be amplifying it wherever you can. And then on the third level, you're going to be going out and tabling holding live in person events, you're going to be doing whatever you can to get the workout stations, public media stations have all different levels of capacity ranging from you know, a three state a three person newsroom, to WNYC or KPCC in LA where there's huge, so we kind of have to we have to customize it depending upon station capacity. And that's again, where partners come in. We are developing we're using some AI frankly, to develop a public public media election Information Portal, isn't it great name, where these questions will automatically come into this portal from the Harkin embeds from across the country. And we will have scraped the basic election information from Secretary of State's websites for the most part, we will be editing the answers we'll humans will be looking at them. But we're hoping that this will create a an easier and more efficient way of getting at some of the really basic questions that we know will come in from across the country. In this, on the left, you can see kind of where the information is pulled, we see the original source and then we can edit it directly into that database and into that app and then that the answers will go back to the stations, the stations will approve them. And then they'll go to the questioner and then we will be able to create FAQs out of these. Finally, we will be developing an impact tracking system. I think we talked about this in some of the earlier sessions. We'll be creating the just the simplest simplest Google metrics, you know, Google Analytics that stations will be training them how to track this kind of stuff. And we'll also be bringing in some qualitative tracking as well. What kind of Anna what first of all, what were you what what outcome did you want to achieve? How did you get there why or why not as many qualitative impacts that we can possibly track all of this to convince station management convinced journalists convinced funders, that this kind of human engagement in the news process, you know, is the way we need to go and creates the kind of political coverage that really meets community's information needs. We have 20 Sit, we have 26 minutes left for questions. Yeah. Please go ahead. I have
I would love to hear a little bit more about your strategy for rural communities. If most of the questions that you get are about the candidates, one of the things we find in small races, particularly anything with fewer than 7000 eligible voters is that that information is just not available online, often, like just literally not there even the registrar's aren't posting in a timely way. How do you deal with that? And how do you work with I mean, and these are the newsrooms with the least capacity to do the groundwork? Yeah, that's how do you how do you work on that? I mean, like LA and New York, frankly,
no problem there. All right. Yeah. No, no, I agree with you, though. People in LA and New York still have questions about the judges, for instance, that's one thing that we found across the country is that people are saying, How do I judge the judges? And so that's one thing we'll be looking at. You know, I don't have a really good answer to that question. I think that what we will do is reach out to small rural newsrooms like yours, hoping that you will be finding some of those answers, we will have a team of researchers as well, that will be digging into this stuff. And it may be a lot of phone calls a lot of research. And frankly, though, there will be some questions that are we won't be able to answer. I mean, especially if we're trying to do a nationwide project like this.
I did want to jump in though. We were just talking about this earlier, I attended a gathering earlier today of rural public media stations. And one of them was a station serving. I told you it was it. It was New Mexico, but the rural part of New Mexico, Las Cruces down on the border, and they actually benefit hugely from the New Mexico collaboration that station, the general manager said they just had one reporter, but that service is so vital. I mean, they're parts of the state where you know, they're only actually content service is public television and public radio, no other signals reach them. And in that case, the station So he has recognized the tremendous service that they need to provide. He was saying that in the most recent elections, they actually had like 25 candidate forums, because this would be one of the few opportunities that the community would have in engaging the audience. I mean, you can think I mean, I think what's amazing is there are so many people here that have information to provide. And there are stations that are serving communities that really need that information. So I actually can't encourage you like enough to consider a partnership where where it makes sense, with a public media station because of the reach that they do have to underserved communities.
And I just want to give a shout out to KR WG because call station and I think pasty, so please directly fund them. Yay.
Hi, I'm Danny Strasser with the jolt, which is the journal of Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater. We operate in the shadow of two public radio stations. And we've learned that public radio is a buzzword that excludes community media, which is another buzzword, which is defines three kinds of television, public access, education and government. Does your program include the pegs stations, public education, and government?
I think joy can address that as well. What we want to do is cast as wide a net as possible with partnerships, I think we would probably end up working with one of the two public media stations in your community.
But can you just go right over us, nobody knows about our county,
I what I'm saying is that we would like to have them create partnerships with you, we would encourage them to reach out to you all to work with you.
Let's talk afterwards, our experience is that is that we, our community is too small for them to spend very much time with at all. When I say very much time I mean, once a year.
What did they do once a year, they might
pay attention to something going on in our county. There's a problem. There's rural and there's urban, but the I don't know how big it is. But there are a lot of cities that surround big markets that aren't that are ignored in by by public television, by Public Radio, and certainly by the newspapers. And we're here trying to figure out how to fix this.
I think he I think you raise a really important point, right, like public broadcasting reaches 99% of Americans. But you know, their ability to serve is limited because they too have limited resources. And that's why CBP has been so invested in collaboration, collaborative resources. I will say, though, that I emphasize when I talk about public media as an ecosystem that each station is independently owned and operated. And actually, even though it can be frustrating at times, it actually makes public media stations more tethered to their local community in a way that like nationalized media outlets, can easily as you've seen with the financial constraints, really make them overemphasize national coverage. And so I do hold out that belief that stations that adhere to their mission and recognize their service would welcome the ability to partner but I can't I just can't speak on behalf of them. You know, CPB is an editorial firewall, but between the appropriations process and what content makers make, but I think that you know, it's worth having a conversation.
Thank you. Thank you.
Thanks for this great question.
Hi, my name is Rashad Mahood from the New Mexico local news find them. funny coincidence. Diana, the Project Coordinator for that collaborative that you mentioned is here too. So that's great. Joy. Thanks for the shout out. And relatedly My question was going to be obviously, you know, the public media stations that I'm familiar with are so grateful whenever there's an initiative like this, that comes down the pike, and that provides them more resources to do something. But obviously, it for especially for the smaller stations like KU, nm care WG that we work with, you know, like ongoing sustainable resources is the real challenge. And so I just wonder how you guys think about it? Like, obviously, you did 2022, you're going to do 2024? Is it possible to make some sort of ongoing regular commitment so that station participating stations will know that they have these resources coming down the road or not? Well,
so going back to the, you know, public media in the US was designed as a public private partnership. And so actually, when you look at the way the appropriations is distributed, we're getting super it's just like the act but you know, 70% of it. It actually goes directly to stations in the form of unrestricted funding. And so in that way, they do have a consistent flow of funds. You raised a really interesting, really important challenge that I think, is really under not discussed enough. You know, we talk a lot about news deserts. But the overlay on rural communities is quite significant. And actually, someone I was I'm gonna, this is not I'm not, I'm not the firsthand source for this, because I heard it at the session this morning. But I will say that some, a person of authority said that for every taxpayer dollar, a public radio station can usually raise about $8. But for rural stations, it's actually only like 250. And that's because, you know, it's directly correlated with the populations they serve. And so especially in rural communities, right, like public money stations, have some resources that other content makers don't have. And we are always trying to encourage some real thoughtfulness around what efficiencies can be achieved through collaborations, and where public media stations can offer also offer opportunities to scale. And it's it's a different solution in every part of the country. But I think that the way you talk about the challenge of serving information needs in rural communities is something that public musicians are very well aware of, that we're very well aware of. And we're trying to figure out together, so we should discuss more. Thanks so much. Thank you.
Hi, I'm Michael Stoll with the San Francisco Public press. We're a 14 year old, independent nonprofit, started on the web, launched a print edition, suspended the print edition during the pandemic, but also started up a low power FM radio station. Part of the LPFM program is a couple of 100 stations around the country that the FCC has licensed in blank spots in the spectrum. I'm wondering if you have worked with LP, FM's if you'd consider it, and, and thereby also working with other organizations based in the communities that have been doing journalism. And using that to do creative things with audio.
My approach is that we want to encourage the stations that we work with to work with whomever in their community is reaching the audiences that they want to reach. So I would say absolutely, yes. If that is an option in their community, we would not discourage any kind of partnerships, I think, with those kinds of organizations that are providing information to their community. So I would say yes, I don't know if there's a reason to say no,
no, I mean, no, I'm talking about information needs, I think, you know, right. There's a difference between community service grant qualified stations and, you know, any news organization that would want to try and partner with a public media station involved in this effort.
So that that's the NPR member station, is that the only
know that we have like a bunch of qualifications for stations that qualify for community service grants, there's a whole process for it. Yeah. I'm not the authority on that. But we could I could direct you to where those qualifications exist.
Thank you. Hi, I'm Brian with piece by piece strategies. I saw sort of more towards the beginning of the presentation, you talked about connecting newsrooms through different cohorts depending on like, what they're reporting on. I'm curious if y'all did that in 2022, or if there were any sort of emerging trends are emerging needs that you started to realize sort of exist beyond the immediate funding needs of some of these local organizations and newsrooms?
demeanor, were there audiences or communities that needed the information that we recognize across the country? That kind
of Yeah, I think, like, particular trends with connecting organizations that might be reporting with rural communities, or, in particular, I think you also mentioned a language, right? Are there particular gaps or particular needs either internal in, you know, some of the affiliates or sort of external in the audience that you think is really important, particularly as we move into 2024 to, like, be aware of or to start thinking about how to fill some of those gaps.
There's a lot of I would say interest on the part of many public media stations on reaching Spanish speaking audiences or audiences of Latino descent. You know, it's that's a huge You know, huge group of people, but there seems to be a lot of a lot of communities where there's low voter turnout that happen to be predominantly Spanish speaking. So a sense that there's a lot of information that needs to get out to those communities for sure. I did notice that. Yeah, thanks.
Any other questions? I think no, I think the basic message is that this project is very interested in working with a wide breadth of organizations across the country. So if there is a public media station that you know of that isn't in your area, it might be a very good time to be part of this project and to have to be able to, you know, tap into some of these resources. The mission is to make sure that our communities and our audiences have the information they need to participate in the election, and to increase civic engagement across the country. So we're doing what we can