Session: Getting Fit to Print: Driving Dialogue through University-Community Partnerships (Society for Social Work and Research 28th Annual Conference - Recentering & Democratizing Knowledge: The Next 30 Years of Social Work Science)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Eastern Standard Time Zone (EST).

SSWR 2024 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 11. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

38 Getting Fit to Print: Driving Dialogue through University-Community Partnerships

Thursday, January 11, 2024: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
Marquis BR Salon 10, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Helen Spencer, MSW, University of Houston
Helen Spencer, MSW, University of Houston and Suzanne Pritzker, PhD, University of Houston
In late 2022, a front page article and headline in the U.S.' fourth-largest media market suggested a significant reduction in polling locations was an essential step to improve the efficiency of elections. The article discussed potential reductions in the largest county within a state with a deep history of voter disenfranchisement, where the largest number of polling locations have been closed since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a portion of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. A social work researcher who has engaged in extensive research around barriers to civic engagement and two members of a Muslim American civic engagement organization mobilized to develop a research-grounded response focused on the disproportionate impact of polling location reductions on communities of color. Together, they penned a 700-word op-ed and submitted it for publication in the Houston Chronicle, a daily newspaper with a Sunday circulation of 1.4 million readers. To date, despite initial acceptance and one round of revisions, the op-ed has yet to be printed. Newspaper opinion pieces can be a valuable tool for disseminating research in ways that create meaningful community engagement, shape public opinion, and influence policy change. When co-created by academic researchers and community members, such pieces can serve as accessible, nimble vehicles for counternarratives while bringing research-driven insights into public dialogue surrounding critical community concerns. As universities partner more closely with local community members through an array of community engaged research approaches, op-eds are a key tool through which teams can respond quickly to current events, unbalanced reporting, and issues that disproportionately harm historically marginalized communities. Although writing such pieces can be a painstaking process, getting the piece placed in a relevant publication can be an even greater challenge. Our experiences working collaboratively to disseminate social work research in an effort to shape public discussion around a concerning policy proposal are instructive to other scholars seeking to maximize the public impact of their research. Each presenter brings experience both with journalism and in sharing social work research with nonacademic audiences; despite this experience, we consistently experienced challenges with this form of dissemination. This workshop will take participants through the opportunities and challenges of collaborative efforts to develop research-based newspaper opinion pieces by retracing the steps of our op-ed development and submission process. This workshop will be discussion based, providing our op-ed process as a hands-on case study, while also creating space for participants to share their own experiences. Informed by the lead presenter's prior professional experiences as a news editor for a major urban newspaper, the following topics will be covered: 1) Approaching community partners and writing together; 2) Selecting appropriate media outlets and formats (e.g. letter to editor, op-ed, or editorial board convening); 3) Framing the issue and writing in an accessible way; 4) Navigating direct communications with media outlets; and 5) How to disseminate an op-ed or other piece once it is published.2.16 on 4-15-2023-->
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