Why defining your community is the key to building trust

Adam Thomas
Jan 26, 2018 · 2 min read

Defining your community is hard. When the European Journalism Centre tried to do this a couple of weeks ago, we hit a serious problem.

We ran out of wall space.

On my trip to Boston this week, I’ve been thinking about who the European Journalism Centre serves. And, like many news organisations right now, I’ve been thinking even more about what that community needs.

News organisations are talking a lot about engaged journalism at the moment. Engaged journalism is reporting that puts community at the heart of what journalists do. This week a new $650,000 fund called CLEF (Community Listening and Engagement Fund) launched in the US. Some of the supporters of the fund are also supporting our own Engaged Journalism Accelerator.

One of the key challenges in the area of engaged journalism is community definition. Before news organisations can begin engaging a community, they need to understand it.

The European Journalism Centre is no different. We use something to help us do this, and I thought I’d share it. It’s called a Community Canvas (thanks for the recommendation Julia Hildebrand!).

It divides the consideration of your community into three areas: identity, experience and structure. Completing the canvas forces you to question every aspect of how your community interacts.

It has become an essential part of our thinking because a community brings people together around a common identity or goal. A community provides a framework for trust. Can I trust your values? Can I trust your work? Can I trust you?

Every organisation needs to be able to define a framework for trust. If they can’t, audiences will never trust them. And without trust, there can be no engagement.


European Journalism Centre

Interviews, insights and opportunities from the European Journalism Centre.

Adam Thomas

Written by

Technology & journalism. Director @ejcnet. Formerly @Storyful @Sourcefabric @transmediale. Don’t panic.

European Journalism Centre

Interviews, insights and opportunities from the European Journalism Centre.

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