July 2024—
12:30 pm—1:30 pm

Online meeting via Zoom

This session is for funders only.

Media Impact Funders, Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) and New_Public invite you to a collaborative program to explore the critical need for a reinvented local forum and its role in strengthening civic engagement and democracy.

Facebook is 20, and not coincidentally, these last two decades have been some of the worst years ever for local journalism in America. The relationship between social media platforms and journalism has proven to be extractive: “Who cares where the link comes from? Give us the content and shut up about your shrinking ad revenues.”

In the meantime, social media continues to evolve: AI-generated content proliferates, new platforms are taking hold, and many people are opting out—preferring to socialize in smaller, private groups such as group texts and Discord servers.

But we think there is an one oft-neglected area with a lot of potential upside for communities, local journalism, and American democracy: the local forum. Forget what you know about the current infrastructure — listservs, Facebook Groups, Nextdoor. Done right, forums could be spaces where local journalism can thrive, build a real audience, and do the essential work of informing people on topics important in their lives, investigating corruption and malfeasance, and providing useful analysis.

We think the time is right for a wave of thriving, prosocial, public-spirited local forums. We envision an AI-enabled, community-steward-led movement to reinvent local community forums as a key part of increasing community cohesion and resilience, while strengthening civic engagement and democracy.

  • Darryl Holliday, a local news strategist, organizer and journalist, is steward of the News Futures collaborative and an independent consultant. He co-founded the Pulitzer Prize-winning civic media lab City Bureau, where he orchestrated the development of Documenters.org in 11 cities.
  • Eli Pariser, Co-Director of New_Public, is an author, activist and entrepreneur focused on making technology and media serve democracy. Eli previously ran MoveOn.org, co-founded Avaaz (now the world’s largest citizen’s organization) and Upworthy, and wrote the bestselling book “The Filter Bubble.”
  • Leo Suarez, Founder/ Lead Moderator at The DTRaleigh Community
  • Kristen Cambell, Executive Director, PACE (moderator)