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The Open Newsroom Is Back — Virtually. We’ve Got a Lot to Talk About…

Clinton Hill, Brooklyn residents encourage social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak.
A sign of the times in Clinton Hill
Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

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Last summer, we started a program with Brooklyn Public Library called The Open Newsroom. The idea: to make local news collaborative.

We held nearly a dozen meetings in three neighborhood libraries in Red Hook, East New York and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Almost 300 people passed through The Open Newsroom, and together we identified a handful of neighborhood concerns and projects.

In Red Hook, people told us that access to food and information about school rezoning were big issues. In East New York, residents said homeownership and property loss were pressing concerns. And In Bedford-Stuyvesant, those who attended our gatherings told us folks needed more information about their rights as tenants.

We were gearing up for another round of meetings in March when the pandemic hit. We cancelled our events and paused many of the projects we were working on in collaboration with residents.

While these concerns are still very real, everything now is colored through the coronavirus lens.

The Open Newsroom is all about meeting people where they are, in person, to hear their concerns. COVID-19 made that impossible. So we regrouped, got creative, purchased a Zoom account and made something we’re excited about.

Join us for the first Virtual Open Newsroom on Thursday, April 30, at 6 p.m. RSVP here.

While it will look a bit different from previous Open Newsrooms, the focus is the same: How do we make local news collaborative?

We’ll break up into small groups in the video chat so we can maintain a bit of an intimate setting. Group facilitators will work through a series of questions about what you’re feeling and seeing right now, and how you’re navigating the crisis. We’ll also chat about the people who have helped you through any challenges and where you’re finding hope.

The goal is to find out what information and resources you need to get through this time, to see if we can get you answers to your most pressing questions and to connect people to each other.

We’re cognizant of the issues around Zoom and will do our best to moderate the virtual gathering. RSVP here and we will send you the link to the Virtual Open Newsroom the day before the event.

If you’re a little uneasy about how the technology works, we can help! We’ll send all the info you need about how to set up Zoom, as well as help you troubleshoot as needed. If you can’t video chat, there will be an option to phone in.

Hope to see you there and feel free to send this link to a friend. If you can’t make it, no worries: Thursday’s session will kick off a series of Virtual Open Newsrooms.

If you have any questions or issues signing up, you can email us at opennewsroom@thecity.nyc or call/text 646-389-9289‬.

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