KAUNAS / PLUNGĖ / JURBARKAS - We are building a map of local community issues dedicated to the communities of Kaunas, Jurbarkas, Plungė, and Neringa municipalities in Lithuania. This tool will encourage greater collaboration between local communities and policymakers, enabling journalists to become more involved in addressing the issues faced by residents.

We are a team of three journalists from different regions of Lithuania, who came together to facilitate the implementation of our ideas, one of which is to create an innovative map of local community issues. It would be hosted on our network of websites gyvenuKaune.lt, gyvenuJurbarke.lt, gyvenuPlungeje.lt and gyvenuNeringoje.lt. The interactive map would serve as an innovative tool for the communities to publicise its issues, and would therefore have the greatest impact in advocating for communities interests and helping to address the concerns of particular groups of citizens of Kaunas, Jurbarkas, Plungė and Neringa.

The problem map we want to create would not only make it possible to publicise
issues of concern to communities in an inclusive, fast and visually appealing way,
but also increase their visibility and encourage politicians and officials to find
solutions faster. This would reinforce the fundamental democratic principle that
government acts in the public interest.

Also, we would write articles for our websites based on the issues people raise, so this tool will provide communities with the opportunity to become initiators and co-creators of the content published on our websites, thus increasing public involvement in the production of journalistic content.

Target group

There is no local press in Neringa (the border area with Russia) - this area can be safely called a true news desert, because due to its geographic specificity (a peninsula), it is also very far away from the bigger cities, so information about the problems of the local population is practically nowhere to be found. There are a few groups on social networks, but because of the lack of democracy in the area, local people are afraid to express themselves in person and there are no journalists to represent them. An interactive map on livNeringa.lt could help local people to raise their concerns and publicity could encourage politicians to address them.

Several local newspapers are published in Jurbarkas, which is also on the border with Russia, but their circulation is very small and their readership tends to be quite elderly. The local press is also not critical because of its links to local politicians, and many problems are glossed over. The interactive map of problems on gyvenuJurbarke.lt would allow local communities to boldly publicize the city's problems, which could be further explored by the journalist Daiva Bartkienė, who creates the content of the website.

Plungė also publishes several newspapers, but their audience is older. The newspapers do not have their own websites, which makes them completely unattractive to young and middle-aged people. Both Plungė and Jurbarkas are located far away from major cities and are hardly covered in the national media, making them news deserts.

Kaunas can be considered a news desert due to the links of the local media with the main power in the city. As the city's media is heavily subsidised by the municipality, it is almost devoid of criticism and does not cover topics of interest to local communities. There is also a strong violation of the rights of communities in Kaunas and a failure to listen to their views on urban management issues. An interactive map of the city's problems would allow local communities to conveniently publicise all the issues they are concerned about in one place, and such a tool would contribute to greater publicity and impact on the problems, while at the same time it would promote the independence of the media, as an independent website about Kaunas could publish uncensored journalistic content.

Goals of the project

The interactive map would allow people to engage in the creation of content, that is relevant to them, facilitate the raising of issues that are of interest to them, also will provide access to reliable information, gathered and produced by professional journalists, which would contribute to reducing the news deserts in our towns and districts. 
The involvement of journalists in community issues is crucial to the democratic process as it encourages politicians to address issues of concern to the people from the bottom up, nurtures and engages civil society, and empowers people themselves to play a more active role in shaping their environment.

Team members

Brigita Sabaliauskaitė

Brigita Sabaliauskaitė has over 25 years of professional experience across various media channels. 

Jurgita Naglienė

Jurgita Naglienė is a journalist with 15 years of experience residing in Lithuania.

Daiva Bartkienė

Daiva Bartkienė is a professional journalist with 35 years of experience in national and regional media. 

€33.500 allocated on 31/10/2023

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