Sunday, June 8, 2014

Ask the Register: The people's voice

For nearly every journalist, there is nothing better than meeting people.

It is part of why we are in this profession. The other part is telling the stories of those people.

Telling stories gives people a voice that goes beyond their immediate circles.

As part of the mission of the New Haven Register to tell such stories, Community Engagement Editor Shahid Abdul-Karim and I are meeting with people in their communities.

We did so Saturday at Springs of Life Giving Water in New Haven. We do so last week at the West Haven Public Library.

I have to admit, after each event, Shahid and I were pumped up.

In West Haven, a small group of folks shared some ideas for coverage, and lobbed some pointed criticism at us. Among criticisms is that we need to be more responsive to our communities. We need to print more maps for context in the newspaper. Among ideas were those for features about our shorelines and the impact made by climate change. (One resident brought maps to demonstrate issues about the coast.)

In New Haven, we heard from the Rev. William Mathis, as well as from several residents who joined the conversation at the Sperry Street church.

Residents, who were warm and inviting, spoke about ways we can better serve New Haven neighborhoods, and ways they can communicate story ideas to us.

Mathis, the New Haven Project Longevity program manager, (shown in middle photo) noted while he spoke that in order to minister to people, you have to meet them were they are, not where you are.

His words carry meaning for the work Shahid and I do too. We are working to meet people were they are. We want to meet you were you are.

We have a new feature at the New Haven Register - it is online and its called "Ask The Register."  It's a service that let's folks comment 24/7 and share questions, complaints and story ideas with editors.  You also can tweet to it using the hashtag #AsktheRegister.

Shahid and I are happy to share the news about this service. We are even happier to be out in the community, meeting folks, helping them to learn how to share their stories, and yes, to hear criticisms of what we do as a news organization.

What we do is manifold. News organizations help to protect democracy; we serve as a watchdog on government and this is invaluable to our way of life in this country.

But at our core also is telling the story of the tapestry of life that is the communities we serve. That is your story.

Talk to us on Ask The Register. Or, contact me at 203-789-5730 or @newsgirlct on Twitter. Contact Shahid Abdul-Karim at 203-789-5614 or @Shahid_Akarim on Twitter.

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