Inside our listening campaign

Our first priority in building a news outlet for Richmond has been to listen deeply to as many people as possible across the city, so we can understand how more local journalism can serve their needs: what we should cover, how we should operate, and the core values we should hold.

L to r: Community listening consultants Guadalupe Madrigal, Amaya Williams-Segovia and Carole Johnson. Not pictured: Romario Conrado. Credit: David Meza

We started by hiring four listening consultants – each with a unique connection to and perspective on Richmond – to help lead our listening initiative: Guadalupe Madrigal, Amaya Williams-Segovia, Carole Johnson and Romario Conrado. They talked with dozens of current and former residents about the local issues they care about, how they’d like to get news and information about their communities, and what they thought more people should know about Richmond. 

We took care to ensure we got early input from a variety of people who represent the rich diversity of Richmond across the city’s many neighborhoods. Our listening consultants talked to people inside and outside their personal networks, engaging people on public transit, at the farmers market and local events. 

Community listening consultant Amaya Williams-Segovia talks with a vendor at the Richmond farmers market. Credit: David Meza

Key takeaways from our listening so far

We’ve been drawing insights from our interviews with Richmonders that can help guide us as we build this local news organization. Several core themes emerged across all the conversations we’ve had. Here are a few that stood out:

  • More than half of the people we talked with said they get their local news from people they know. One resident told us: “The only source that I trust is through word-of-mouth – people who I’ve known for years who are active in the community.”
  • People regularly said they wanted more positive news about Richmond, especially coverage of community events before they happen and reporting on the people who are actively working to make the city a better place. “People in Richmond are trying to improve the city and make it into a space that’s safe,” said one resident. “People want to change the reputation of Richmond but it will take time.”
  • Many residents talked about the qualities they want from a local news outlet, such as being unbiased, balanced and accurate. “I like the ways I currently get news and info. But it would help to have another source that’s local,” said one resident. “The news outlets we currently have tend to be biased so we need a more balanced news source.”
  • Key issues that Richmonders said they wanted more coverage of: housing and homelessness, local government, the state of public schools, and food – coverage about local restaurants and also access to healthy food. Street crime came up often as a major issue, and several people also talked about how Richmond is “better/safer than people think it is.”
  • Several people cited the divide and disparities between neighborhoods, along with a call for the city to be more unified. “An issue that people aren’t talking about,” said one resident, “is the separation of [communities]. Richmond is a big city where there are communities that receive better resources than others.”
Community listening consultant Guadalupe Madrigal at work. Credit: David Meza

A local news wish list for Richmond

We asked Richmonders to complete the following sentence: “I wish local news would…” We got lots of powerful answers, a few of which we’ve spotlighted below.

“I wish the local news would …”

“… talk about how Richmond can improve and develop into as best a city as possible.”

“… tell me more about my community and events.”

“… make it more easily accessible for bilingual families.”

“… acknowledge the good things that are happening here and support our youth A LOT more.”

“… report on what gets decided at the city council, planning commission and design review meetings.”

“… be more useful and not so traumatic.”

What’s on your wish list for local news? We’re still listening. You can share your thoughts with us here, or meet us for coffee. We’re gathering as much input as we can to ensure that we’re building a newsroom that’s truly reflective of, and responsive to, the needs of Richmond’s communities.