Inform your community’s vote

When your community has a voice in the political coverage you produce, a representative democracy is possible.

Hearken supports you in creating participatory, democratic processes for determining what you cover and how you cover it.

The Citizens Agenda

Find out what the electorate wants politicians to address

In collaboration with influential journalism professor and media critic Jay Rosen, Hearken has created a step-by-step guide to an audience-centric reporting method that better serves voters.

We call it The Citizens Agenda — it’s public-powered journalism applied to elections coverage.

Resources include a recording of our Intro to The Citizens Agenda webinar and much more.

Of the newsrooms who participated in our Engaged Elections training in the 2020 elections cycle,


said participating built trust between their newsroom and their community members


said participating helped them be more able to listen and respond to their communities


said participating increased the size of their audience


said they will use the engagement strategies they learned in the next election

From: Robinson, Sue. (Forthcoming). How Journalists Engage: A theory of trust-building for a multicultural world. Oxford University Press

Limited Time Offer: The Hearken Engaged Elections Cohort

Hearken is excited to offer a special package for a limited time: a training and technology bundle.

This unique training and engagement platform, the Engagement Management System, will prepare your team to launch a public-powered journalism approach in time for the critically important 2022 U.S. Elections.

Priority application deadline for our July cohort is June 24, 2022

For new clients, your participation in this cohort locks in a special bundled rate for our technology and training. Current technology clients lock in a special rate for the training course.

We have limited slots available.

For more information about our bundled rate options, and to secure your team a spot, please fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch.

Additional questions? Reach out to info@wearehearken.com

Our next training course kicks off in July, 2022. We’ll hit these topics over four courses:

  • Intro to The Citizens’ Agenda: This public-powered election model is the key to making your elections coverage centered on the needs of the audiences and communities you’re serving.  
  • Developing and Refining Your Vision for Elections Coverage: This hands-on workshop helps your team break free from past habits and see inspiring ways of shifting elections approaches for better outcomes.  
  • Expanding Your Audience – Network Mapping: We’ll help your team map out which audiences you’re not yet reaching, and develop smart plans for better listening and responding to those you haven’t served.
  • Metrics for Engagement: Using the metrics your newsroom already values as a starting point, we’ll help your team build a successful strategy and tracking approach that aligns with their vision and goals.

The Citizens Agenda training helped us reassess how our election coverage impacts the communities we serve.”

Carlos Virgen, Digital News Director, The Day

“We definitely want to continue the Citizens Agenda model … It helped us engage with our readers more, which is not only great for our long term sustainability, but also helps them become a better informed audience for voting.”

Citizens Agenda Training Participant

“The Citizens Agenda led to us using engagement as a comprehensive, multi-faceted, open-ended ongoing approach to an editorial focus. Though we’ve done engagement work with great success in the past, it’s often been either too open ended, without clear goals and strong follow through on what we’re doing with community response, or limited/static, like doing a callout to crowdsource ideas for one story. 

Asking people for their questions (in general, and for particular officials) was also new and really important to the success. We also for the first time directly responded individually to respondents in a systematic way to answer their questions and share pertinent coverage.”

Participants from the Cap Times newspaper in Madison, WI

Democracy SOS – 2022

Democracy SOS is a fellowship designed to help newsrooms think big; plan long-term; and reinvent politics, governance and elections coverage with and for their communities.

The Democracy SOS fellowship will support approximately 20 newsrooms committed to helping lead this transformation, with priority given to those in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.

The Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) and Hearken are jointly launching this fellowship to tie together effective trainings at the intersection of journalism and civic empowerment, with equity as a core value and practice. We envision a future in which newsrooms replace stories about conflicting and competing polls and candidates—which we know contribute to distrust—with more deep, ongoing examinations of important social issues, including the health of our democracy itself.

The fellowship will apply insights gained from other initiatives led by Hearken and SJN, among them Election SOS, the Citizens Agenda, Citizens’ Solutions, Renewing Democracy and Complicating the Narratives, all of which have helped newsrooms approach civic, political and elections-related reporting in new ways.

Hearken's EMS question embed
Hearken's EMS question embed

Election SOS – 2020

Election SOS was an initiative dedicated to supporting U.S. journalists in responding to critical 2020 election information needs. We offered training for journalists, connecting them to best practices, resources and support around election coverage.

What started with a call for radically different campaign coverage went on to produce training, emergency response guides, a rolodex of diverse sources for elections-related issues, extremism support, rapid response grants and a fellowship program placing 37 up-and-coming journalists in 20 newsrooms for additional election support.

Election SOS was created by Hearken with the support of Trusting News and was fiscally sponsored by the American Press Institute with lead funding from The Democracy Fund. 

Interested in working with Hearken to support democracy?