WHYY’s “Civic Dialogue Summit: Journalism Drives Democracy”

Madi Costigan
event photo

On May 3rd and 4th, WHYY hosted its first annual “Civic Dialogue Summit: Journalism Drives Democracy.” Thanks to WHYY’s partnerships with the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Sutherland Family, this summit was a free experience that brought together writers and creators with bases in Philadelphia and other cities across the country. The panels and discussions centered on ways to foster communication and trust between news media outlets and the local communities they cover, with the goal of encouraging discourse on educating the youth, facilitating important conversations, and encouraging civic engagement.

With GPA’s growing journalism program and missions focusing on bridging communities and delivering global-minded information to our audiences, it was essential that we learned from the presenters and other attendees in order to apply this new knowledge to GPA’s goals.

Contributors shared ideas on strategies for educating the youth, facilitating discussions on divisive topics, and covering issues that seem the most prevalent to our communities today. There were very genuine discussions about how active listening and expressions of empathy are necessary to promote effective dialogue and understanding, which translates into the ability to portray and connect with other people’s stories through different forms of media. Especially when dealing with tough issues, promoting the understanding, listening, and sharing of ideas is essential to staying informed and making sure all voices are seen and heard.

All of these conversations kept in mind the importance of civic dialogue and engagement, and how we, as organizations that seek to inform the public, can have a positive role in increasing those actions.

Eric Marsh, Manager of Community Engagement at WHYY, and member of GPA’s Emerging International Journalist Program Advisory Board, hosted the Saturday portion of the event. Following the conclusion of the successful summit, Eric shared his thoughts on its significance, stating: “In today’s politically and ideologically divided times, civic dialogue is more important than ever. Journalists and news outlets play several key roles in strengthening a democratic society. Not only do journalists report on politics and issues important to voters but they serve as the “fourth estate,” holding the powerful accountable to the masses and keeping relevant information accessible to all. WHYY’s “Civic Dialogue Summit: Journalism Drives Democracy” served as a focus point for all the ways that journalists and community members can use civic dialogue to foster information sharing and encourage civic engagement for a better, more equitable democracy.”

GPA is lucky to have the expertise of Eric and fellow Philadelphia-based journalists and media experts on our EIJP Advisory Board so that we can grow in our partnerships and enhance GPA’s role in the city’s media landscape.

The ideas and insights presented at the summit, whether from panelists or active discussion members, all shared the common ground of wanting to develop and spread more inclusive and effective communication practices in order to promote civic engagement and increase knowledge in our communities. The dedication of these writers, creators, and entrepreneurs to these values shows a brighter future for the world of media, and GPA looks forward to using our journalism program to share information and foster greater understanding amongst diverse communities across the city.

Emerging International Journalists Program