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    Local Columns
    Wednesday, May 22, 2024

    Crowdsourcing our investigative journalism project

    You know what happens when someone assumes she knows something, without actually confirming it to be true?  

    I won't assume you do.

    The saying goes that when you a-s-s-u-m-e, it "makes an ass out of you and me."

    As your local newspaper, it's easy for us speculate about what the community wants or needs. But without hearing from the many different voices throughout the community, how can we know for sure?

    We need your help. And a megaphone, if you have one we can borrow.

    In the next few months, we'll be asking to hear from you, the stakeholders, as we seek philanthropic funding for an investigative series on economic mobility in our region. The first topic we'll tackle is housing. If you don't have a safe and comfortable place to live, how can you flourish at school or work, or at all?

    We want to hear from people of all ages and stages of life who have struggled to afford housing. We plan to listen to individuals and groups and to those who work in social services, government and the housing industry. We have questions ready to go, and we expect you'll provide us with more.

    When we think we have a fuller picture of what's going on, we'll approach funders to ask for money. We think investigative work of this kind is important, and we can't do it without grants and donations.

    In August, The Day was accepted into the Local Media Association's Lab for Journalism Funding. We're working with 20 news organizations from throughout the country to develop and execute strategies to fund local journalism, in part through philanthropic support.

    We've identified our project as The Day's Economic Mobility Solutions Lab. Maybe we'll give it a nickname to make it sound less daunting. We're open to suggestions.

    We hope to raise enough money to fund two reporting positions and one editor, and to pay for other related costs, such as events, equipment and translation services.

    During the first two biweekly sessions of the LMA lab, we heard from companies who have successfully raised funds for in-depth projects, including the Seattle Times with its "Project Homeless" and, closer to home, the Meriden Record-Journal with its Latino Communities Reporting Lab.

    We started to map our network of potential stakeholders and helpers, and now we're conducting a "listening tour." When we talk to you, through email, in person, over the phone or on Zoom, we'll ask you to tell us your own story and answer some questions, such as: What are the most pressing issues related to housing? Which programs or efforts are working? What's missing?  

    We're great at identifying and reporting on problems, but we want to do better when it comes to finding, and being part of, solutions. It's a big project, and we want it to have impact.

    If you'd like to be heard, email me at k.florin@theday.com and put "LISTENING TOUR" in the subject line. I'm looking forward to talking to you.

    Karen Florin is The Day's Engagement Editor.

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