Community Advises Decibel To ‘Expand The Tent’

Friday, November 13th 2020

The Decibel team hosted another community conversation last week. We just finished publishing our first batch of stories under our new mission and wanted to get community feedback.

In September, we decided to focus on the Asian American community for our first reporting project, and since there was an election looming we decided to focus on election stories for our first round of reporting.

We kicked things off by hosting an event to get feedback and story ideas for this project. You can read more about that event here. We worked on four stories for our election coverage. Three of those stories focused on one individual who is trying to mobilize voters in Central Texas, and one piece was a montage of Asian American voters sharing their thoughts about the upcoming election.

Under our new editorial strategy all reporting begins and ends with a conversation. We look to the community before we start reporting to understand where to start and we go back to the community to see how we did. The event we hosted last week was to get feedback on how we did.

Like our event in September, we decided to hold this event virtually because our staff is still working remotely and safety regarding Covid-19 is still a priority. We spent the first 30 minutes of the event explaining the purpose of our gathering and played all four stories for our audience. We wanted them to see our work and have that be the driving force for our discussion. After our screening, we spent one hour discussing Decibel’s reporting.

We kicked off our discussion with a poll. We asked attendees, “How would you rate Decibel’s coverage of the Asian American community?” Most of the attendees rated our coverage “good,” while two attendees each rated our coverage “excellent” or “fair.” No one rated our coverage "poor" or "very poor."

Poll Results Nov 5

Poll results from our event on November 5, 2020.

We asked a broader version of this question in our September event, as well, before we started any reporting. Attendees were asked, “How would you rate the news media’s coverage of the Asian American community?”

Poll Results Sept Event

Poll results from our event on September 9, 2020.

We polled attendees at both events because we wanted to measure our improvement. The wording in these polls is slightly different, but we got a higher number of “excellent” or “good” responses this time around, which we take as a sign we are improving. However, there’s still work to be done.

Attendees gave open and honest feedback on how we can improve our reporting. One of the critiques of our stories is that they all focused on someone who was either a second generation Asian American or someone who has lived in the U.S. for a long time. “You need to look at the diversity within the diversity,” an attendee said. Attendees suggested we tell the stories of recent immigrants, or people within this community who speak other languages besides English. They stressed we need to share the stories of people in this community who are often overlooked.

After the event we sent out a thank you email and survey to get an idea of how people thought the conversation went. We only got four responses to our survey, but all four respondents rated the event “excellent.” However, one critique we got was that our event featured the same people who usually attended events like this. We “need to expand the tent,” the response said. Like the critique of our coverage, we need to do a better job of reaching out to people who don’t have easy access to us.

With that feedback in mind we are beginning work on more stories. We aren’t focusing our stories around a specific topic like we did before and instead are trying to highlight a few of the areas people touched on in our discussion. By not limiting ourselves to a topic like the election, we are hoping to get a more diverse batch of stories.

Overall, we think the event was a success. We will continue to host more conversations like this in the future and look forward to trying new ways to connect with the communities we cover.

Community journalism doesn’t happen without community support.

Got story ideas, advice on how we can improve our reporting or just want to know more about what we do? Reach out to us at news@klru.org.

And if you value this type of reporting, then please consider making a donation to Austin PBS. Your gift makes the quality journalism done by the Decibel team possible. Thank you for your contribution.

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