Well, that was fun! This past Monday, Oct. 4, California Watch reporters, editors and other staff spread out across the state for our second Open Newsroom.

Our goal was to meet current and potential readers and to introduce ourselves to communities – and we were able to do just that. At 10 different locations, from Sacramento to the Bay Area, Visalia and Los Angeles, we met people from all walks of life.

Public engagement manager Ashley Alvarado had one of the most robust experiences; she kibitzed with a dozen or so people over coffee and pastries at the Xokolatl Café in Los Angeles. Conversation topics ranged from illegal immigration to race in America, botany, and closing the education gap. There was a diverse collection of folks at the coffeehouse, and those who sat down to chat came from very different backgrounds. Among them were parents concerned about keeping their kids off the street and getting a quality education, an immigrant struggling to achieve legal status, and a U.S. Marshal fighting crime in the States and Mexico.

In Sacramento, senior editor Robert Salladay joined reporters Chase Davis, Christina Jewett and Corey Johnson at Temple Coffee. After our first Open Newsroom’s smaller turnout, their expectations were low. Imagine their surprise when reader after reader popped up to introduce themselves, some even providing valuable tips that may lead to future stories. (Have a tip? Find the contact information for the reporter who covers your interest here.) 

Finally, one lucky open newsroom participant won an iPod Touch. Jorge Renderos of Palmdale was our randomly selected winner. Thank you to everyone who participated.

But we’re only 17 people, and we weren’t able to be in all locations at once. Jim Coffis pointed out on our Facebook page that we were only around the Central Coast. And James Koren of San Bernardino wondered why we weren’t in the Inland Empire. That’s something we are going to address in the next Open Newsroom in January – going to more places in California.

So where should we go next? Give us some ideas in the comments section below (or tweet or Facebook us), and we’ll send out a California Watch reporter or editor to at least one of the locations you suggest. 

California Watch, a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting, is supported by major grants from the California Endowment, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Meghann Farnsworth

Meghann Farnsworth is the managing director of distribution, operations and engagement for Reveal and The Center for Investigative Reporting. She manages teams dedicated to website production and management, technology, analytics, social media, distribution, newsletters, online and on-the-ground community building, arts collaborations, and youth engagement. She also helps develop and support media partnerships and collaborations for Reveal’s national public radio show and podcast. Previously, Farnsworth was the senior digital media manager at Home Front Communications in Washington, D.C., where she worked in digital media management, interactive development and outreach for nonprofit and government clients. She also served as the associate editor of Forums at PBS NewsHour, where she created interactive online forums that helped increase and engage the NewsHour's online audience. She was an inaugural member of the Online News Association-Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media, and she has presented at conferences across the country, including SXSW, ONA, the Logan Symposium, the Reynolds Journalism Institute and others. She earned her master's degree in journalism from UC Berkeley and undergraduate degree at the University of Oregon. Farnsworth is based at Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.