By Stephanie Castellano, American Press Institute
On May 31, as protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police swept the nation, staffers at the Long Beach Post in Long Beach, California, watched as some demonstrations in their own city turned violent. By the following morning, 170 businesses in downtown Long Beach had been damaged or looted, including the building where the Post’s offices are located.
But as the sun rose over the downtown area, people started showing up to clear away the debris and repair the damages. By the end of the day, more than 2,000 volunteers had helped with the clean-up, said Long Beach Post Publisher David Sommers.
Watching this response from the community made Sommers decide to act on an idea he and his colleagues had been mulling for months: forming a community editorial board. The board, Sommers wrote, would bring new and different perspectives to the Post’s coverage, not only calling attention to wrongs in the community but also tapping into that same spirit that led 2,000 people to show up for their neighbors in a troubled time.
“We don’t want to be about what happened that night,” said Sommers. “We want to be about what’s going to happen moving forward.”
Community advisory boards are one way to start more of your journalism from a place of listening.