Bio and Disclosures

I am a journalist and organizer working to build more sustainable journalism through community engagement.

My work focuses on building community around the news through organizing, teaching, creative storytelling, high impact events, public education and collaborative problem-solving. I’m currently the Director of Journalism & Sustainability at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. You can follow our work at LocalNewsLab.org. Previously I worked for seven years at Free Press fighting for the future of news through media and technology policy. At Free Press I managed three national campaigns focused on strengthening press freedom, expanding public media and opposing media consolidation.

For more than ten years I have led strategic communications efforts in support of education, advocacy and journalism organizations. I am a founding board member of the Freedom of the Press Foundation and the curator of VerificationJunkie.com, a growing directory of tools for fact checking and verifying social media. My work on press freedom in the digital age was awarded Storify of the Year in 2011 and a Lew Hill Media Ally award in 2012.

I speak frequently on press freedom, community media, civic engagement, innovation, collaboration and media policy. Recent panels and talks have included SXSW, the Online News Association and the National Conference for Media Reform. My writing has been published at Orion Magazine, the Columbia Journalism Review, BoingBoing, Mother Jones and Yes Magazine.

Prior to my work at Free Press I taught writing and literature at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where I did my graduate work in American Studies.

I have been involved in student civic engagement and service learning for more than a decade. While at UMass I worked in the Office of Community Service Learning, managing strategic communications and the office’s independent study program. Before that, I worked as Policy and Communications Associate for Campus Compact, a national coalition of more than 1,000 colleges and universities committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education. I coordinated external relations with legislators, the White House, federal agencies, and corporations and developed a national advocacy coalition for service learning legislation and funding. I’ve edited and authored service-learning faculty development publications, coordinated a national faculty award program and edited an academic service-learning journal.

In addition to my work, I’m involved with a number organizations as a board member and advisor.

  • I’m currently a board member for the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
  • For over nine years I served on the board of directors for the Student Conservation Association. I served as an SCA/AmeriCorps volunteer for ten months after college.
  • From 2002-2006 I served on the steering committee for the Educators for Community Engagement.
  • I have served on the board for, been a consultant to, and volunteered with the Valley Land Fund, a local land conservation organization in western Massachusetts.

Recently, most of my attention has been given over to renovating a 150 year old farm house and celebrating each day with my family. I bake bread, make yogurt, brew beer and take pictures.

You can find me around the web:

Home page: http://jcstearns.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jcstearns
Groundswell: https://stearns.wordpress.com
Tumblr: http://jcstearns.tumblr.com
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jstearns/sets/

4 thoughts on “About

  1. Teri @ MommySabbatical.com says:

    Josh –
    Love the lyrics to your song…
    wondering if it would be okay to record 3 gals singing it as a youtube video for our local MOPS group? Obviously we’ll tell everyone you & your wife wrote the lyrics – will start the video with that & put it in the description. Nothing fancy, just a funny thing to lament with other moms…!

  2. Jeswanth Padooru says:

    Hello Mr Stearns,

    I am a cofounder of a news based community engagement platform called SaddaHaq.com from India. I would like to learn more from you on engagement. Could it be possible to connect over email ?

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