Journalism’s great strength is in its ability to hold the powerful to account. For too long, however, that power has been tempered by the fact that communities of color are often simply written out of or represented incorrectly in news coverage. The Observer believes that we have a responsibility to do better when it comes to engaging with communities of color. For the last year, thanks to funding from the Google GNI Innovation Challenge, Director of Engagement DaLyah Jones and Engagement Fellow Zacharia Washington worked in communities across Texas to develop a replicable model that outlets around the state and that the Texas Observer could use as a foundation for inspiration towards coverage of historically overlooked communities, especially in rural areas.ism. To do it, we’re working alongside grassroots leaders and organizations to survey communities that are historically under-covered and frequently misrepresented in the media. We’re asking Texans how they receive their information, and about the issues they feel need to be prioritized. We’re also teaching residents how to combat disinformation, reach out to reporters, and even how to tell their own stories on a local level.

The purpose of this project was to take a rehabilitative approach towards engaging this history of oppression. We also wanted to empower exploited residents and grassroots leaders by putting the tools of journalism into their hands while we gained insight into coverage needs. You can read the full report here.

What Journalism Owes: COLLAB Results

“As the state of Texas sees a shift in demographics, ideology, economy, environment, and healthcare, we can no longer content ourselves with awards and “increased” diversity, followed by exhaustion and untimely turnover. We need to move beyond traditional and passive journalism. Our hope for existing legacy organizations and those on the horizon is that this report helps invigorate a journalism that’s quite the opposite.” 

From the white paper introduction by DaLyah Jones and Zacharia Washington. Read more and learn about the project and the results here.


View Past Events Below

Check out our calendar for upcoming in-person and virtual events here.

Brews & News Town Hall

In collaboration with Trucha and Equal Voice Network, this panel critically addresses journalism coverage, representation in media leadership/reporting and how coverage can be improved in the RGV region. Watch here.

Nacogdoches Emergency Planning Town Hall FB Live

A conversation between local residents, advocates and elected leaders about emergency planning and long-term plans for the City of Nacogdoches and Nacogdoches County. Watch here.