So on June 12, 15 Camden residents and journalists came together to share perspectives, ideas and stories to better understand what community members want out of coverage of these vitally important issues.
We co-hosted the event with the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University, close allies of ours on the Civic Info Bill campaign and the Stories of Atlantic City project. The Courier Post and WCMD, a Camden-based radio station, were in attendance and listened attentively to what residents had to say.
Economic development is a hot topic in Camden, and almost every resident we’ve met has brought the issue up. Community members who attended our event had a lot to say about how local media have portrayed Camden and its economic opportunities.
We started the evening asking folks how they feel about the existing coverage of economic development and jobs in Camden. Many attendees believe there’s work that needs to be done to better inform residents. Some folks would like to see more stats and figures about unemployment and other economic matters. Many want to hear more about the benefits of downtown development for residents and those seeking jobs.
Others believe that recent media coverage of economic issues has focused too much on topics that have nothing to do with Camden, like the scandal with the state’s Economic Development Authority and the squabbles between Gov. Murphy and political boss George Norcoss.
We also took the time to ask folks what role local reporting could play in spreading the word about local economic opportunities and we got some interesting responses. Many participants believe it’s important to have more community perspectives when it comes to these crucial economic issues and more information concerning jobs, job fairs and job-readiness workshops.
One attendee advocated for more information on city and state bills and how they can affect Camden’s economy. This participant noted that having information while efforts are still in the planning stages would enable residents to galvanize for or against specific projects or development.
We received good ideas from Camden residents on how they perceive the economic coverage of their community — and we also got some good feedback on the role journalism can play in keeping people informed.
We hope that our next steps can lead to more reporting about how economic factors can affect the city and the region. Attendees want to continue the conversation and we plan to do so in the coming weeks.