New York Focus Statewide Community Listening Tour

We’re launching a statewide community listening tour to understand the information needs of New Yorkers across the state.

What does that mean? We want to know: What do you think about local news coverage? What is the news media doing well, and what are we missing? What issues would you like to see get more or different coverage in your community?

Why do we care? New York Focus, an independent nonprofit newsroom, investigates power in the Empire State. Founded in 2020, we publish in-depth journalism about climate, housing, criminal justice, immigration and economic development in order to explain how the state really works.

As the state’s only nonprofit statewide newsroom, part of our mission is to help rebuild a local news ecosystem that has faced years of relentless cuts: Almost half of New York’s newspapers have died in the last two decades.

We’re launching a statewide, community listening campaign to understand the information needs of New Yorkers, as well as the information needs of different regions and communities within the state. We want to hear from you!

What do you think about local news?

We’re asking New Yorkers from all parts of the state to complete our survey. The information you provide is essential to us as we strive to produce journalism that is informed by the needs of residents. But it’s not just about us. At the conclusion of our tour, we will publish our findings in a report on the information needs of New Yorkers. We will share what we heard with media organizations, community organizations, civic institutions, libraries, and others.

Please take a few minutes to complete our survey.

Meet New York Focus: Attend a Community Listening Session

New York Focus is going on tour! Over the coming months, we will host four in-person community listening sessions in cities and towns across the state. Our first stop was Rochester in October, where we sat with local residents to hear about their information needs and the issues they care about. We also made stops in Albany and the North Country.

Look out for an announcement for our next event in Syracuse.

Where else should we go? Reach out to audience engagement editor Alex Arriaga if you have any questions or want to connect:


Who is funding the community listening tour?
New York Focus received a grant from The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, an organization working to strengthen local journalism and help news organizations build sustainable business models..

What sorts of questions do you ask in the surveys and listening sessions?
We want to know more about how you get information about your state and local government and how informed and empowered you feel to participate in civic issues. For example — how do you feel your local community is represented in state and local news media? Do you feel you have a voice in the political processes that govern your life and communities?

What will you do with this information?
New York Focus will use the information we gather from the survey and the listening sessions to shape our journalism and ensure that our work is serving our audiences as best it can. At the conclusion of the listening tour, we will also publish a final report on the information needs of New Yorkers, based on what we learned. We hope this report will be instructive not only for our organization, but to journalistic and other types of civic or community organizations across the state.

Why does this matter?
Too much statehouse coverage in New York is written for political insiders, alienating the people most impacted by policy made in Albany. This project is a key pillar of our audience engagement strategy, and will be a significant stride towards our north star mission: to redefine who constitutes a political insider in New York, producing journalism that expands participation in our state’s democracy.

Our listening tour will have a particular focus on engaging with underrepresented groups – those who have traditionally been left out of or misrepresented by mainstream media coverage. Our goal is for survey respondents to reflect the demographics of New York state as a whole. This includes efforts to widely distribute the survey through partnerships with local and statewide groups who serve different communities.

What is audience engagement journalism? Why does it matter?
Engagement journalism is a term used to describe a method of journalism that prioritizes the community. Instead of reporters unilaterally deciding what to cover, engagement journalism flips the script: the community tells the newsroom what’s important, and what they want to see reporters produce stories about.

At New York Focus, audience engagement means closely connecting with New Yorkers every week by sharing news and soliciting feedback through our newsletter and on social media platforms. It also means partnering with local publications across the state to distribute stories locally and for free, publishing stories through partnerships with local radio and TV news organizations, meeting with our audiences face to face through events, and asking our readers what matters most to them through our statewide audience survey. We want to understand the needs of our readers so that we can better meet those needs.

What do you want us to know? What should we be asking about? We’d love to hear your ideas. Reach out to Audience Engagement Editor Alex Arriaga