Doing the Civic Map in Public Journalism: A Quick Guide

Why map in PJ?

§         Serves as game plan or quick reference

§         Helps you move out of “conventional” mode (ideas, sources, writing)

§         Leads to deeper understanding of and reporting on a community or issue


Mapping the Community

§         Geographical

§         Topical

§         Composition

§         Other types


Public Journalism: When to map

§         Finding story ideas

§         Building the story

§         Telling the story

Finding Story Ideas

§         What makes a community tick?

o       Issues and concerns
o       Hopes and aspirations
o       Trends


§         Immersion

§         Focus Group Discussion

§         Survey


Peeling the Layers

§         Official

§         Quasi-official

§         Third places

§         Incidental

§         Private


Building the Story


§         The Topic

§         The Team

§         The Strategies

§         The Sources

§         The Timetable


The Topic

§         What we know

§         What we want to know

§         What is interesting

§         What is beneficial

§         How much time and effort

§         What the dimensions/boundaries of the area/topic are


The Team

§         Reporters

§         Editors

§         Researchers

§         Photojournalists

§         Librarians

§         Advertising (?)


Community Conversations

§         Types

o       Focus groups
o       Town hall meetings
o       Small public assemblies
o       Coffee-shop (sari-sari store) talks
o       Kitchen-table (living-room) conversations

§         Use throughout

o       Explore other angles
o       Bring in more voices
o       Report/validate findings
o       Solicit feedback
o       Look for solutions


 Framing the Story

What frame?

§         NEWS: Hard, soft

§         FEATURE:  News feature Profile; How to

§         OPINION: Commentary; analysis


What frame?

§         Conflict

§         Explanatory

§         Problem-solving

§         Investigative

§         Human interest


What frame?

§         Environment

§         Business

§         Legal

§         Community

§         Law enforcement (Police, military)


Importance of framing

§         Selects relevant context

§         Supports certain values

§         Shapes readers’ view



§         Format (formal series, one-day specials)

§         Project aim

§         Project guide (evolution, schedule of upcoming events)

§         Photos

§         Historical perspective

§         Data analysis (maps, graphs, tables)

§         Empowerment info (self-help info, reading lists, community resources, how-to-get involved)

§         Civic linkages (contact info)

§         Online component (information, feedback, continued discussion)


The Landscape: Synthesis

§         Focus: What’s the central theme?

§         Lead and nut graph: What’s the point of the story?

§         History: How did the problem develop?

§         Scope: How widespread is the development?

§         Causes: Why is this problem happening now?

§         Effects: Who’s affected and how?

§         Moves and countermoves: Who’s acting to promote or oppose the developments, and what are they doing?

§         Future: What could happen?


What to remember

§         The relevant “voices”

§         Synthesis, not mere recording

§         Anecdotes, description, dialogues, examples

§         Contrasts and comparisons

§         BBI (boring but important) information


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