In the tradition of discussing issues on front porches and in small diners, WIPB in Muncie, Indiana, created a forum for civic dialogue in their community.
A professor talked with a truck driver. A person in poverty engaged in dialogue with a wealthy executive. Together, thirty-eight randomly selected citizens spent a day sharing thoughts and insights about health care.
Their conversation, captured by WIPB cameras, was part of the station's participation in the national By the People initiative organized by MacNeil-Lehrer Productions.
"Our voice joined with voices across the nation," said WIPB Outreach Director Lori Georgi.
One of 16 sites, Muncie's conversation was supported by background information on local health care needs and concerns provided by partner organizations and a panel of professionals. The conversation became part of the national By the People broadcast program, as well as a local program broadcast on WIPB that launched the discussion into the broader community.
Viewers heard their neighbors' perspectives about health care needs and issues in their own community. Local partner organizations gleaned valuable information from participants. Minnetrista, a regional cultural and heritage center, hosted the forum.
"This was an opportunity for learning," said Minnetrista vice president Rebecca Holmquist. "The discussion was amazing."
WIPB will use the discussion forum model in future outreach efforts addressing community issues.
"By the People demonstrated the value of dialogue," Georgi said. "It has expanded our vision for informative outreach."