On February 11, 2021, the Bloomfield Information Project and Social Impact Studios gathered two dozen Essex County residents for a discussion about the role of local news and information in their communities.

The listening session was one of an ongoing series hosted by the Bloomfield Information Project to understand how we can meet the news, information, and civic engagement needs of Greater Bloomfield.

We partnered with Social Impact Studios to amplify our community’s voice in the organization’s public-engagement campaign on behalf of the NJ Civic Information Consortium, a nonprofit created by the state to respond to the local news crisis by funding public service media and technology.

The listening session included discussion of our area’s future, the role news and information can play in it, and what’s working – and not – in Essex County.

Attendees envisioned a future where Essex County communities develop and maintain their local character through inclusive cultural events, an economy where small businesses prevail, housing that’s fair and equitable, and walk and commuter-friendly infrastructure.

To get there, attendees said they need news and information services that are trustworthy, to-the-point, and accessible. And that building those services requires buy-in from local government, community members, and other stakeholders.

Recommendations attendees offered included a community ambassador program to help organize neighborhoods as well as improving communication infrastructure to more proactively reach people with information and make institutions more responsive to their needs.

Moving forward, the Bloomfield Information Project will continue hosting listening sessions to inform the development of our public service journalism programs.

If you’d like to help us organize a listening session for a group of people in your community, let us know by contacting us below.