Who doesn't like to read the morning paper over a cup of coffee? Well, in Winnipeg, Canada, you can do just that whilst sitting in the newspaper's very own café.
The Winnipeg Free Press, which has a Monday- Friday circulation of 115,827, has set up a café in downtown Winnipeg where members of the public can drop in to grab a sandwich and maybe a quick chat with the paper's multimedia reporter and multimedia editor.
The two journalists, Tania Kohut and Tyler Walsh, have permanent desks in the café, positioned in amongst the TV monitors on the wall and plates of what is, by all accounts, delicious food. Though the working environment is unusual, it is all done in the name of community engagement.
So much is done via social media to encourage feedback and interaction with readers, but for local publications, having an established, physical presence within the community can be a huge asset. You only have to look at the community feedback to see how much the people of Winnipeg seem to love the project.
The café is a fully functioning business, open every day of the week and even closing at 10pm on a Friday night, but it also plays host to special events organised by the city's daily newspaper. For instance on October 4, the results from the Manitoba elections will be streamed live in the café.
The Winnipeg press is no the first organisation to embark upon such a project, however. In Connecticut, The Register Citizen operates a similar newsroom café; due to its free wi-fi and its public archives of 120 years of The Register, the project has proved incredibly popular.
The Texas Tribune has taken a different tack to community engagement and launched a festival which focuses on "Energy & Environment, Race & Immigration, Public & Higher Education, and Health & Human Services" . Priced $50 for students and $100 for members of The Tribune, this might not be affordable for everyone, but it provides those who are interested in the topics being discussed to listen to and engage with experts in the field.
New media engagement is undoubtedly important, but it's a mistake to over look the value of old fashioned face-to-face personal interaction with community reporters.