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KCBX receives grant for news initiative 

KCBX Central Coast Public Radio, the region’s NPR affiliate, has received a grant from the Community Listening and Engagement Fund (CLEF) to help fund its new newsroom initiative, “Central Coast Curious.” The $6,375 grant will cover 75 percent of a year-long subscription to Hearken, a tool that helps news organizations better listen to their communities and create more inclusive, relevant, and trusted coverage for the diverse audiences they serve.

Hearken is an online tool that is used in newsrooms around the world. It allows news organizations to include the public as a story develops, from conception to publication, enabling community members to suggest, vote on and meaningfully participate in the stories covered. According to KCBX Program Director, Marisa Waddell, KCBX News will use Hearken to invite listeners into its journalistic storytelling process by asking people to send in questions about the Central Coast, its landscape, culture, people and issues. “Listeners will then have a chance to vote on their favorite questions and, potentially, to participate in the reporting and storytelling process,” Waddell said. “KCBX News will report the answers on the air, online, and through NPR One, the news app from National Public Radio.”

CLEF has announced that 34 news organizations throughout the U.S. are receiving grants, including small newsrooms like KCBX, and larger ones like the Dallas Morning News, and the Christian Science Monitor. The first group of CLEF grantees includes 15 local outlets, two statewide news organizations, one national publisher, nine topic-based publishers, and two universities.

Waddell says that dozens of questions have been submitted to KCBX already, from serious ones like, “Why are there not enough county mental health funds to support emergency mental health needs?” to the simply curious, “Every time I drive past the San Luis Obispo Cemetery on Higuera, I wonder what the giant pyramid is all about. Is it a tomb or a monument?”

CLEF is supported by The News Integrity Initiative, Democracy Fund, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism and Knight Foundation.

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