Involve the Community

The day KXAN launched its Save Our Students series, two of the journalists involved used Facebook Live to introduce the project and explain the concept of solutions journalism. During the week, the station hosted two more Facebook Live events with mental health experts, taking questions about stories they aired on suicide prevention and play therapy. The Facebook live events were also streamed on

After the project started airing, the station organized a series of public events, including a live-streamed community forum with school leaders, law enforcement and mental health experts and a digital-only teen town hall at a local Boys and Girls Club.

“I didn’t connect the dots and understand fully how important engagement would be,” news director Chad Cross told the Cronkite News Lab. “But that did turn out to be the way that we were able to get in front of the people who have power to consider these ideas and possibly implement them.”

several images from the KXAN mobile newsroom at a baseball park
KXAN mobile newsroom (credit Josh Hinkle, KXAN)

KXAN reporters and anchors staffed “mobile newsrooms” at several popular locations over the next two weeks—a hike and bike trail; a balloon festival; and a minor league baseball game. They listened to people’s stories while sharing mental health resources. Some one-on-one conversations that were recorded became a digital-only feature.

To keep the discussion going, the station created a public Facebook group monitored by journalists involved in the project, which surfaced new story ideas. “Our viewers and users have connected with us unlike any initiative I’ve seen in my decade at KXAN,” said Josh Hinkle, director of investigations and innovation. “They continue engaging with us, sending story ideas and encouraging our team to keep going.”