Meet The OpEd Project Public Knowledge Fund, Inc., a recipient of this year’s Facebook Journalism Project Community Network Grant, and learn more about their funded project.

For more information about the FJP Community Network, visit: https://facebookjournalismproject.com/programs/community-network/

The Funded Project:

To help elevate opinion journalism as a method to augment a reader’s understanding of issues and events, the OpEd project will hold three community events. At these events, readers will learn the purpose of op-ed writing, learn the basics of op-ed writing and gain a better understanding of the opinion page’s purpose in their local newspapers.

In Their Own Words:

Keeping local news outlets alive is essential. The key to sustaining them is maintaining or increasing subscription rates. And the key to increasing subscription rates is getting readers to want to read newspapers, which requires both engendering and improving trust in them. According to a study published last year by the Pew Research Center, trust has been eroded because the public increasingly believes that news outlets do not distinguish between fact reporting and opinion.

Opinion journalism, of course, is essential to a free press. The problem is that people don’t understand why. They see it as a bias that taints fact-based journalism rather than a way to augment their understanding of issues and events using reporting and insight.

Our project runs community events in three cities that are on the verge of being news deserts: McAllen in Hidalgo County, Texas (one newspaper, countywide), Atlanta in Fulton County, Georgia (one newspaper, countywide) and Tucson in Pima County, Arizona. We will address the perception of bias — and therefore the lack of trust — in newspapers by explaining the purpose of opinion journalism as well as letting participants “get inside” opinion journalism by learning the basics of op-ed writing. Our goal is that 50% of our participants will read at least two editorial/op-ed/commentaries per month post-training, with a new or renewed understanding of the opinion page’s purpose, and that 30% will draft an op-ed themselves.

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