At a time when news and journalism are experiencing significant disruption, Democracy Fund is seeking to better understand and equip news outlets and reporters for public engagement. Individual newsrooms are ill-equipped to deal with large-scale transformations in platforms, news economics, and audience habits. Culture shifts are difficult to achieve and often happen from the bottom up or the outside in. We recognize that new solutions are needed across organizations that can be compared, replicated, scaled, and evaluated.
Communities of Practice (CoPs) provide a structure in which this activity can happen adjacent to or outside of legacy settings. This paper examines the theory and evolution of CoPs and explores in greater detail the nascent CoPs developing around engaged journalism. The appendix provides a checklist for building and grouping CoPs.
Democracy Fund is committed to supporting a vibrant media and the public square. By examining how CoPs have developed in the field of engaged journalism to date, we can better understand how a community of practice provides useful structures for learning, growth, and innovation. We can also learn how the ideas can be applied to other communities in journalism, including leaders at local news hubs, media business innovators, and other cohorts where new practices are emerging.
We welcome your feedback on these ideas and look forward to hearing more from you about how communities of practice are being adopted in your newsrooms and communities.