Mansfield Newspaper Hosting Community Baby Shower to Educate on Infant Mortality, Sleep Safety

click to enlarge Mansfield Newspaper Hosting Community Baby Shower to Educate on Infant Mortality, Sleep Safety
Courtesy Babies Need Boxes
We've written about the Los Angeles-based Baby Box Co. before and pointed out Ohio's alarming infant mortality rate, and today we bring you the story of a small newspaper in Mansfield that's doing something about the issue. With the help of the Baby Box Co., the Richland Source is hosting a community baby shower on Sept. 9 to educate young mothers and fathers — to educate the region — on infant mortality and safe sleeping conditions for babies.

The event pairs with the paper's ongoing infant mortality reporting.

The Poynter Institute, a nonprofit school for journalism and global agenda-setter for the industry, explains how the newsroom landed on this event.

It starts with an engaged editorial staff, of course, and includes the Solution Journalism Network. Reporter Brittany Schock, who authored a series called "Healing Hope," got in touch with the SJN. The network awarded her work its top pick for the best solutions journalism from 2016, as Poynter points out. From there, the baby shower came into view.

"Why are so many babies dying in Richland County?" Schock asked at the outset of her reporting. (Richland County is about 80 miles southwest of Cleveland.)

It's one thing to lay the problem and its causes on the table; that's the heart of journalism.

From there, though, Schock and her team recognized a need beyond that, and with a $10,000 boost from the SJN, she and the Source began searching for ways to solve this problem.

Schock reported on the Baby Box Co. phenomenon, and the paper noted that, afterward, "People started talking. Baby boxes started trending nationally, furthering local conversation. Six months later, baby boxes are now available in Richland County."

Problem. Solution.

From Poynter:

"The list of weird stuff that my staff is willing to try is long," said Jay Allred, Richland Source's publisher. "This is a reach for us."

Neither he nor Schock could remember exactly where the idea came from, "but somebody said, what if we flipped it to healthy families and healthy babies? We flip that story to 'let's be healthy.'"

So the community engagement project is a traditional celebration of life – a baby shower.

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Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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