Course Description

Terry Parris, Jr., shares the techniques of his trade, career advice and inspiration for a future where journalists build bridges with communities, and engagement journalism is just called journalism. 

Like Terry says, "My goal, my future goal is that we stop talking about this as engagement, as separate from journalism or a separate person who does engagement. One of the things that I want to happen is that when you think of a project as a reporter, engagement becomes part of that. It becomes inevitable, becomes ubiquitous with what we do.”

This lively lecture contains many real-life crowdsourcing examples from Terry’s work at ProPublica, including covering Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange, uncovering misleading political emails and more. The video includes a step-by-step, in-depth review of an ambitious ProPublica investigation into maternal deaths in the United States called “Lost Mothers” with guest Adriana Gallardo.

Take this class whether you are a journalism student, a professional journalist or a member of the public curious to take a peek behind the scenes.

This video lecture is made possible by a generous grant from the News Integrity Initiative to "build enduring trust and mutual respect between newsrooms and the public through sustained listening, collaboration, and transparency." 

The series was filmed in the Newmark J-School studio in New York.

Video Lecturer

Terry Parris Jr.

Terry Parris, Jr. is engagement director at The City, an investigative journalism startup in New York City. Previously, he was ProPublica’s deputy editor, engagement. As such, he led a number of award-winning crowsdsourced investigations. He was part of the ProPublica team that was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for a series of data investigations into algorithms and how they shape our lives in the realm of criminal justice, online shopping and social media.Before that, he led digital production and engagement at WDET 101.9 FM, NPR’s affiliate in Detroit. Terry teaches audience engagement at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.Terry believes that the stories that result from far-reaching crowdsourcing are more complete, accurate and community-building because of the outreach. 

Course curriculum

  • 1

    1. CROWDSOURCING AND COMMUNITY

    • Meet Terry

    • A Christmas robbery

    • Build a bridge

  • 2

    2. DEFINING COMMUNITY

    • Links

    • People want to tell their stories

    • Harmed and ignored

    • Community vs. audience

    • Reporting recipes

  • 3

    3. HOW I GOT A JOB IN JOURNALISM

    • Learning empathy

    • J-school and first job

    • Say yes to everything

    • Links

  • 4

    4. HOW I GOT BETTER AT IT (AND YOU CAN TOO!)

    • The day of the heat wave

    • Be helpful

    • Landing the "unattainable" job

    • Links

  • 5

    5. FINDING SOURCES

    • Undocumented workers

    • The Listening Post

    • Vietnam veterans

    • Links

  • 6

    6. REACHING OUT

    • Soft skills

    • Write "letters to grandma"

    • Top-down vs. bottom-up

  • 7

    7. SOCIAL MEDIA AND ENGAGEMENT

    • Social "shoe-leather" reporting

    • Firestone and the warlord

    • The right audience

    • Links

  • 8

    8. CROWDSOURCING

    • The travel ban

    • Dealing with 8,000 stories

    • Vet and verify

    • Reporter, not advocate

    • Links

  • 9

    9. TRUST AND THE FUTURE

    • Two books that changed me

    • (Re)building trust

    • How to pitch your editor

    • The future

    • Links

    • Survey: Did you like this lecture?

  • 10

    10. LOST MOTHERS: Case study with Adriana Gallardo

    • Defining the community. From private tragedy to public issue.

    • Links

  • 11

    11. LOST MOTHERS: Finding a community

    • GoFundMe. A rigorous process. Baby photographers. One mother's story.

    • Links

  • 12

    12. LOST MOTHERS: Investigating in the open

    • Build a relationship. Sort out stories. Next steps. Reach sources outside your circle. In their own voices. What works best.

    • Links

  • 13

    13. LOST MOTHERS: Getting organized

    • Setting up the form. Testing the form. The spreadsheet. The feedback loop. Bulk messaging tricks.

    • Links

  • 14

    14: LOST MOTHERS: Blind spots

    • Reporting gaps. The StoryCorps method. Curate the experience. Tell the big story. Conversations. Smaller newsrooms.

    • Links

  • 15

    15. LOST MOTHERS: Closing the project

    • Reporting trauma. Defining impact. Exiting.

    • Survey: Did you like this lecture?

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