Civic Engagement

Haverhill Matters will not only report and deliver the news our community needs, it will deliver it through a website that’s designed to amplify the journalism’s civic impact.

The site will provide digital Sharing Forums that provide a welcoming and trustworthy environment where readers can find others who care about an issue, learn from each other and from other resources, and work for constructive community change.

To widen engagement, the Forums offer handy tools you can use to invite friends to join the conversation.  The website, in short, will offer an online public square whose conversations are nourished by Haverhill Matters’ journalism.

That Haverhill Matters is a cooperative, the most trustworthy form of business ownership, adds comfort to its Sharing Forums.  So does the co-op’s promise:  that readers will experience it as relevant to their lives, respectful of them as persons, and worthy of their trust.

To make sure toxic comments don’t sour civic engagement, only news co-op members may comment – and they will be required to sign their real names and to pledge to uphold a set of standards whose aim is keeping things constructive.  (Members may apply to the editors to have their names withheld from their comments under certain circumstances, as newspapers sometimes do for writers of letters to the editor.)

Forums will also ask readers to flag comments they think break the standards; the editors will assess flagged comments and communicate with members whose posts cross the line.  And each Forum will have a volunteer curator, who will be selected by Haverhill Matters’s editor.

Another form of civic engagement comes when readers collaborate with the editor to improve news coverage.  The more readers do this the stronger Haverhill Matters will be, so the editor will use the website to present Questions of the Week, to survey co-op members for story ideas, and to invite reader input several other ways.

Further, every story page will ask for several kinds of reader feedback:  Did the story advance your understanding of the issue it covers?  Is something incorrect?  Can you offer knowledge that can help shape a follow-up story?  Might you have relevant photos or documents?  An idea for a related story?

Every website page will offer easy directions for submissions of all kinds.  Except for letters to the editor, you must be a member to contribute.  Click here for a Web form where you can pledge to be a member, volunteer to help, or leave your email address to receive updates.  And see Frequently Asked Questions for more detail.