Mobile Newsrooms in Libraries
Louisville Free Public Library
LFPL partnered with the state’s largest daily newspaper, The Courier Journal, to host mobile newsrooms at 5 libraries located in diverse neighborhoods across the city. For one month, a small team of journalists worked out of a library–listening to residents, writing stories, and presenting programs–before moving to another library and neighborhood.
Certain areas of Louisville – especially those with more diverse populations – have often been underrepresented, or represented negatively, in local media coverage. As a result, residents in these neighborhoods are less comfortable reaching out to a reporter or editor, or simply lack the historic connections to do so. The goals of the project were to not only improve positive coverage of the city’s many diverse neighborhoods, but to also foster greater civic engagement by amplifying the voices within these communities.
Key Elements of Innovation
As part of the Mobile Newsroom, libraries hosted a “Meet the Editors” night, where residents could talk directly to the paper’s editors about their community. In addition, the opinion editor held a 1-hour class during the month on how to submit an op-ed. Participants got tips on what the editor is looking for and a behind-the-scenes understanding of the purpose and vision of the op-ed page. Lastly, library and CJ staff hosted four Public School Board Candidate Forums ahead of November elections.
Our libraries serve as community conveners – providing safe spaces for the exchange of ideas and information. By having reporters “embedded” in libraries, we helped connect reporters directly to the people in those underrepresented communities. The project resulted in more than 40 positive news stories. The candidate forums brought hundreds of citizens into libraries to ask questions and engage in the democratic process. The op-ed sessions taught residents how to better make their voices heard using the free press.