Ohio University

Journalists to visit OHIO Nov. 21 to discuss community issues

Published: November 14, 2019 Author: Staff reports

An event co-hosted by Your Voice Ohio and the Ohio Debate Commission will bring regional journalists to Ohio University to discuss important issues related to Southeast Ohio communities from 6-8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 21, at Nelson Commons. 

Across Ohio, journalists have been holding community conversations to ask: What will it take to make life better here?

The event will include food and open table conversations about what people in Southeast Ohio communities need to improve life in this unique, picturesque area of parks, history, universities and economic challenges.

The listening events are part of the Your Voice Ohio media project, in which journalists sit with people in their communities to better understand and represent the people in the 2020 state and national elections — before candidates come to town and define issues the way they want.

What journalists have learned in the last two years listening to more than 1,200 people discuss addiction, the economy and defining a new future is that people and candidates have very different ideas. In other communities, the answers to a better life have often differed from public policy enacted at the local and state levels. 

Unlike industrial cities and farm towns visited so far by Your Voice Ohio journalists, Southeast Ohio provides a unique backdrop for the next conversation. The region that includes Athens, Logan, Marietta, McConnelsville and Pomeroy is one of Ohio’s most picturesque, but its Appalachian foothills, winding roads, technological limitations and closed coal mines bring challenges.

The conversations are open to the public and sponsored by the Athens MessengerAthens NewsWOUB Public Media, The Post of Athens,  Logan Daily NewsPerry County TribuneMorgan County NewsThe Courier of Jackson and Vinton counties, the Marietta Times, the Meigs Independent Press and Your Voice Ohio, which is a statewide media collaborative of more than 50 news outlets. Other sponsors include the Ohio Debate Commission and Ohio University. 

People will sit at tables as equals with journalists and leaders to discuss what their hopes are and how those might be achieved. Themes have emerged across the state, as have special needs for each community.

The questions journalists will ask residents are:

  • What does a community look like where people are happy and live fulfilled lives?
  • What would you change about your community to move in the direction of happy and fulfilled lives?
  • What are the assets of the community that can be applied to making change?

What are actions that can be taken by leaders, people and journalists to bring about those changes? The experience across the state is that people ask news outlets to write about solutions that offer hope.

Speakers at the event will include: 

Doug Oplinger, project manager of Your Voice Ohio. Doug has 45 years of exemplary journalistic work in Ohio as a reporter and managing editor at the Akron Beacon Journal that includes editing two Pulitzers. 

Jill Zimon, who has extensive community leadership experience, most recently as project director of the Ohio Debate Commission. Previous work includes executive director of OpenNEO, Pepper Pike City Council and director of risk management of Bellefaire JCB, Shaker Heights, Ohio. Jill holds a law degree from Case Western Reserve University and a B.A. from Georgetown University.

Anthony Shoemaker, who has worked for Cox Media Group since starting as a freelance reporter covering Tipp City in 1993. His experience in journalism ranges from copy editor, front-page designer, weekend editor and public affairs editor. His extensive coverage of public affairs, elections and politics has garnered much attention. Recently, Mr. Shoemaker coordinated Stories of Survival project on survivors of the 2019 Dayton-area tornadoes.

Those interested in attending should register by visiting this web site