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"Editor-on-Call” Uses Listening Post Collective Expertise to Support US Newsrooms

As communities react and respond to the global COVID-19 pandemic, fact-based, locally relevant news and information is needed more than ever. This is particularly true for hard-to-reach, vulnerable communities, who are much less likely to get the key information they need, in the languages they speak, and in the digital and offline spaces they frequent.

The Listening Post Collective partners with community-based media outlets serving these audiences. Our partners are typically tight on resources and the added realities of the pandemic have stretched their staff and capacity thin.

In mid-March, Listening Post Collective asked our partners what they needed personally or financially to ensure that they endure this crisis and, ideally, emerge from it better positioned to serve their communities. In response, we created a newsroom assistance service called “Editor-on- Call,” a pro-bono sign-up service to assist over 20 partners with a wide range of needs.

Through Editor-on-call, our partners now receive:

• Newsroom support: Listening Post Collective is helping newsrooms generate story ideas, gather information, fact check, edit publications, involve their audiences, apply for grants, and more.

• Coaching: Our coaches are giving guidance to our partners on how to prioritize their news agendas and content to reflect the changing needs and concerns of their audience. Coaches are providing guidance on strategies for sharing news and information with hard-to-reach communities, working remotely, adjusting workflows, conducting information needs surveys and long-term sustainability. Our partners can sign up to meet one-on-one with any of our coaches as many times as they choose.

• Subsidized services: Listening Post Collective has partnered with a translation center and SMS services to help subsidize translation or messaging needs so our partners can ensure that their communities have access to useful and accessible information. Along with these services, partners will receive coaching to help them engage and reach communities in a thoughtful and effective way.

• Collaboration stipends: Listening Post Collective is providing resources to help catalyze the collective power of our partners. We are encouraging and compensating our partners to spend time connecting with each other, to share resources and strategies, or otherwise combine their strengths as individual outlets to help each other.

Our coaching and editorial assistance team is comprised of editors, reports, natural disaster dispatchers, and entrepreneurs. Translation services are available in Spanish, Hmong, Somali, Mandarin, and more.

Making an impact

During this crisis people need to know how to protect themselves from the virus, how their local government is responding, how to safely acquire food, medication, and medical services. As the crisis continues to unfold, people will need to know how to apply for and receive necessary government services such as filing for unemployment and social services. 

Our network is providing this crucial information, in multiple languages, to over 1.5 million people across the country. They are collecting questions and concerns from audience members, coordinating information about key local services, providing a sense of community and support to those feeling isolated, and publishing critical journalism that reflects the lived experiences of the most vulnerable and ultimately holds those in power to account.   

When community-based news outlets like the Listening Post Collective partners can’t operate or connect in meaningful ways with their audiences, rumors and misinformation fill the void, spreading through social media, private chats, and email. 

Our partners want to serve their communities. We can help. Local media is in crisis, but our intention is to help our partners not only endure this pandemic, but come out stronger.

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