Democracy Toolkit


Resources and support for pro-democracy journalists

Pro-democracy journalists report what’s true. They hold liars accountable. They use direct language. They inform voters with clear and careful warnings when legislation, elected officials, or candidates threaten the continuation of democracy.

Democracy Summit Speakers: Learn about the speakers from the Center for Democracy & Journalism’s launch summit. Learn more →

Organizations: Find resources, support and training for pro-democracy journalism practices. Learn more →

Case Studies: See new approaches and innovations for pro-democracy journalism in action. Learn more →

“Democracy not only guarantees a free press, it requires one.”

— Nikole Hannah-Jones

Founder, Center for Journalism & Democracy Knight Chair in Race and Journalism

Recommended Resources: Explore a collection of related guides, books, podcasts, articles, newsletters and more. Learn more →


The Center for Journalism & Democracy seeks to reshape the American media in ways that foster racial justice, hold power accountable and strengthen U.S. democracy. Guided by the Black Press tradition of courageous inquiry, we promote historically-informed investigative reporting that exposes how power is wielded against the vulnerable. Through broad-based partnerships with universities, media organizations, think tanks, and local communities, we provide opportunities to students at HBCUs and diverse practitioners within the journalism field for interdisciplinary training, immersive research, mentorship and deep collaboration. We are cultivating investigative journalists able to transform the national conversation about race, policy fairness and representative democracy.


Election SOS supports journalists in responding to critical election information needs. Election SOS offers training & resources for journalists, connecting them to best practices, resources and support around election coverage. Election SOS is managed by Hearken with the support of Trusting News, is fiscally sponsored by the American Press Institute, and is principally funded by The Democracy Fund and the Trusted Elections Fund Project.

Democracy SOS offers a nine-month fellowship that supports reporters and editors in advancing democracy through innovative approaches that build civic engagement, equity and healthy discourse. The Democracy SOS fellowship is designed to help newsrooms think big, plan long-term, and reinvent politics, governance and elections coverage with and for their communities. This fellowship is a joint initiative created by Hearken and Solutions Journalism Network and principally funded by Democracy Fund, Henry Luce Foundation and LoudHound.


Hearken means “to listen.” Hearken helps people and organizations better listen and respond to their stakeholders through training and technologies. Using their own methodology centered on curiosity, listening and connection, Hearken also builds engines of innovation that drive relationships, growth, revenue and human potential. In the democracy and journalism space, Hearken has co-created: The Citizens Agenda Guide, Election SOS, Democracy SOS, Democracy Day, The Engagement Innovation Summit, and supported the creation of: The People Powered Publishing Conference, The Community Listening & Innovation Fund, Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange, SRCCON: CARE, and Civic Exchange Chicago.

Special Thanks

This toolkit is a collaborative effort. Thanks to the following organizations for their contributions:

Ad Observatory, Brennan Center, Campaign Legal Center, Center for Tech and Civic Life, CHARP Education Consulting, Citizen Data, Colorado Media Project, Democracy Day, Democracy SOS, El Tímpano, Election SOS, Good Conflict, Hearken, Issue One, Lewis Wallace, Media and Democracy Project, Modifier, More In Common, NYU Cybersecurity for Democracy, Our Body Politic, PEN America, Public Agenda, Public Integrity, Secure Democracy USA, The American Press Institute, The Documenters Network, The National Press Club Journalism Institute, The News Literacy Project, The Poynter Institute, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, The Solutions Journalism Network, Trusting News, Voting Rights Lab

Design & v. 1 of the Democracy Toolkit made by: Jennifer Brandel and Tina Hart from Hearken, Nancy Watzman and the team at Mission Partners.

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