Josh Stearns

journalist, Community Builder, and Civic Strategist in Massachusetts

Read my blog

I am a journalist and organizer who works at the intersection of communications and communities. I'm Associate Director for the Public Square Program at Democracy Fund where we invest in building strong networks to support local news and innovation. Previously I directed the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation's journalism sustainability project, focused on developing new revenue models for local news rooted in community engagement and creative collaboration.

For more than two decades my work in journalism, communications, education and advocacy has focused on transforming institutions to be more responsive to and reflective of their community. Through large scale civic projects, coalition building and powerful storytelling I have helped newsrooms and nonprofits use cutting edge digital tools to engage deeply with the people they serve.

Prior to joining the Dodge Foundation, I spent 7 years running national advocacy campaigns in support of freedom of expression and media diversity. Most recently I served as Press Freedom Director at Free Press. Prior to that, I directed policy and communications for Campus Compact, a national coalition of more than 1,000 colleges and universities committed to the civic purposes of higher education.

I lecture regularly on journalism, strategic communications, creative storytelling, and collaborative problem solving around the world. My research and reporting have appeared online at the Guardian, Columbia Journalism Review, PBS MediaShift, Mother Jones, Orion Magazine, BuzzFeed and BoingBoing.

I am currently a board member at Amherst Media and Orion Magazine. I am a founding board member of the Freedom of the Press Foundation and founding member of the First Draft Coalition focused on citizen journalism, eyewitness media and breaking news.

  • Work
    • Democracy Fund