When we talk about a story being “engaging” it typically outlines a clear and colorful narrative that includes voices and reflection upon the issues at hand. It shouldn’t be surprising that engaged journalism, an attempt to create reporting that acts as a relationship instead of a broadcast of information, insists on many of those same qualities. The tendency for reporters to finish a story and forget about the issue they covered or not uncover enough information in the first place has been a long-standing complaint about journalism. The counter to this tendency is to create meaningful conversations about issues and communities in our work, and to have stories that work to combat many of tropes that might arise.
With this intention, however, we need to potentially reconsider the ethical decision making of journalism. It’s a fine line to tell a story that avoids the mistakes of the past, especially when those mistakes are the most readily available or have a sense of truth in them. Journalists need to work better to break down stereotypes and find deeper meaningful stories that serve and amplify the voices of communities, instead of reflecting the views of those outside the community. Engaged journalism asks that our work serve the communities we cover, and informs them of what they need to know, instead of what they already know about the views of outsiders.
Locally you can read and interact with engaged journalism through operations like Plan Philly, who report on planning and development throughout the city.