We’ll be back August 1 for a month-long review of our new City Council.

By Andrea Faye Hart

Photo Credit: Danielle Scruggs

Photo Credit: Danielle Scruggs

Last March I wrote how City Bureau was (and still is) mapping out ways to grow with integrity. Since then our team has been identifying organizational resources and practices we could employ internally.

In the last year I’ve learned so much, but an especially galvanizing moment was a workshop I co-hosted with Open News’ Erika Owens during the 2018 Allied Media Conference where we heard from dozens of practitioners who want to better the orgs they’ve inherited or the ones they’re creating. Participants kept echoing the need to eradicate a false sense of urgency that has led to unrealistic deadlines or trying to do too many things (hello, capitalism rearing its head in work that’s meant to be an antidote).

All these conversations helped me articulate two key things: I was burning out doing something I loved. And we’ve outgrown some of the initial methods we used to produce the Public Newsroom. So we’re going to embrace these growing pains as a moment to take a healthy creative reset. Because if we want City Bureau to be an organization that functions fluidly like a human, not rigidly like a machine, what’s more humane than taking time to learn or taking a break?

So we’re hitting pause on the Public Newsroom for a month and a half — from June 13 through July 25 — to identify lessons learned, evaluate what needs improvement as well as explore ways we can grow to better serve and work with our community. Our decision to take a break from weekly workshops fits into the commitments we outlined when trying to grow with integrity, especially to support staff wellness and promote internal learning and a positive work environment. Instead we’re going to focus on deepening the relationships we have built over the past 111 workshops and identifying new ones.

While we won’t be hosting PNs around the city, Ellie Mejía (the PN co-pilot) and I will be meeting with stakeholders in neighborhoods across the city to inform our next steps. We want to take time to identify month-long themes for the Public Newsroom (like we tested with our #LocalNewsContract series) and understand how to better share the materials that get generated during our workshops.

We’ll also check in with our PN partners at 14 East, Mississippi Today and Énois to hear what they’ve been learning. And, as mentioned last June, we’ll be rolling out a PN toolkit for more folks to replicate this workshop series for their communities. We’ll also have updates on our 2019 Public Newsroom Curator application.

We’ll be back August 1 to kick off a series co-designed with Chicago United for Equity around aldermanic accountability and evaluating the first 100 days of our new City Council in wards around the city.

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