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September 30th 2019 

Special Issue

“Engaged” Journalism: Studying the News Industry’s Changing Relationship with the Public

As journalists across the globe continue to face distrustful audiences and uncertain economics, many have begun experimenting with novel forms of news production and community engagement with the hope of solving the news industry’s ails. These efforts tend to focus specifically on improving the relationship between journalists and the communities they cover, often by attempting to provide those communities with more agency in the process by which their stories are told (Ferrer-Conill & Tandoc, 2018; Lawrence, Radcliffe, & Schmidt, 2017; Nelson, 2018; Wenzel, 2017). For example, many newsrooms now use tools provided by audience engagement companies like Hearken and GroundSource to solicit questions from community members or provide them with interactive information. Others have begun hosting “public newsrooms” and “listening sessions” in order to improve journalists’ understanding of who their readers are and what they expect from the news. And still others are transitioning from ad-supported to membership-supported revenue models in hopes of creating a financial incentive to better serve their audiences.

The excitement within the news industry surrounding these innovations has been accompanied by a growing number of academic studies focused on their implementation, as well as their implications for journalism and the public. These studies tend to explore important questions, such as: How likely are these innovations to endure? How should they be measured and/or monetized? To what extent are they changing journalism roles and norms? And perhaps most importantly, how are they interpreted by the very audiences they hope to affect? This special issue of Journalism Practice will investigate these issues, by bringing together original research focused on these “engaged” approaches to news production. Successful submissions will be theoretically and methodologically rigorous, and will address new methods, conceptualizations and practices for engagement in journalism.

These topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • The relationship between journalists and communities/audiences (e.g., audience engagement, community organizing, trust building initiatives, membership and crowd-sourced revenue models, etc.)
  • Participatory journalism, public-powered journalism, citizen journalism
  • Service journalism and movement journalism
  • Innovations in the measurement of news audience engagement
  • Efforts to increase representation of diverse race, gender, class, and ideological perspectives in the process of making and circulating the news
  • The impact and/or sustainability of these “engaged” approaches

Submission guidelines

This special issue will stem in part from a 2019 ICA pre-conference, which will bring together “engaged” journalism innovators, funders, and researchers in an attempt to bridge the divide between these stakeholders; however, we encourage submissions from anyone who is working in this area.


Articles should be between 7000 and 8000 words in length and follow Journalism Practice’s style guidelines. Please submit your full papers to via Journalism Practice’s online submission system by September 30, 2019, indicating that you submit for this special issue. We will notify authors if their paper has been accepted by January 31, 2020. The special issue is scheduled for spring 2020.


Ferrer-Conill, R., & Tandoc, E. C. (2018). The Audience-Oriented Editor. Digital Journalism, 6(4), 436–453. http://doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2018.1440972

Lawrence, R. G., Radcliffe, D., & Schmidt, T. R. (2017). Practicing Engagement. Journalism Practice, 1–21. http://doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2017.1391712

Nelson, J. L. (2018). The Elusive Engagement Metric. Digital Journalism, 6(4). http://doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2018.1445000

Wenzel, A. (2017). Public Media and Marginalized Publics: Online and offline engagement strategies and local storytelling networks. Digital Journalism, 1–18. http://doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2017.1398594

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Editorial information

  • Andrea Wenzel

  • Jacob L. Nelson

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