April 29, 2010

More citizen journalist initiatives starting at Michigan newspapers

Looks like Michigan's Oakland Press will get help in expanding its citizen journalism pool.

Plus more Michigan communities will start relying on neighbors to help cover the news.

The Journal Register, which owns the Oakland Press, Macomb Daily, Royal Oak Daily Tribune, Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant in Michigan and 13 other daily newspapers in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, partnered with SeeClickFix

A shared item on Facebook let me to this article in the Dearborn Press and Guide:
Newspaper group starts citizen journalist initiative.
"The partnership provides SeeClickFix portal pages on JRC Web sites that will allow users to observe, report and follow issues in their communities. Web site users will be able to create watch areas and track items ranging from poor road conditions to blighted buildings."

Think of it as a community neighborhood watch group for news.

The Oakland Press launched a citizen journalism academy in late 2008, even gained circulation when other Michigan newspapers cut back. But the move brought plenty of attention to the Oakland Press.

The company believes this partnership will benefit the communities by:
  • Encouraging the audience to use the SeeClickFix platform to alert fellow residents of impact issues.
  • Empowering residents to work with the company’s journalists to address community needs.
  • Highlighting those who participate and make a difference through news reports.

How's that for a press release reprinted in a newspaper as if it were a story.

The press release at the company site says:

The company expects to expand its network to its other properties, including the other weekly newspapers in Michigan. Those include the Advisor and Source in Shelby Township, Voice Newspapers, Southgate News-Herald, Heritage Newspapers and Morning Star Network, according to the company website.

Meanwhile, the Rapidian on the west side of Michigan is going strong.

Create or die

We are also about a month away from a Journalism That Matters unconference in Detroit.

The idea behind the event is "How can we reshape journalism so that it engages and serves all people & communities?"

A Facebook announcement said:
"A focused, three-day gathering of results-driven journalists, entrepreneurs, programmers, technologists, bloggers, videographers, funders, venture capitalists, artists and educators to discover, assess, shape and create new enterprises and new approaches to participatory media and civic journalism. We'll meeting in St. Andrew's Hall, a National Register-listed former church, with
state-of-the-art TV production facilities next door, and dormitory suite or hotel accommodations.

Learn about Detroit's changing economy as a metaphor for the journalism change and opportunity. Arrive Thurs., June 3, at mid-day, begin with an afternoon orientation, buffet dinner and evening program. Share/work Friday and Saturday using circle-round and break-out 'unconference' collaboration; wrap up and commit to next steps on Sunday morning."

Some expectations:
  • New and unexpected cross-sector collaborations
  • Broadening a community of practice among people who care about journalism innovation
  • Nurture and develop journalism entrepreneurship especially for underserved communities and people of color
  • Learn from stories of successful projects
  • Discover and engage financial/funding sources to seed new projects

Developing the program has started, but much of it depends on who shows up.

I'm registered to go, expecting to work behind the scenes capturing and then sharing some of what is discovered at the event. A few obstacles for me to overcome, but I think some exciting conversations will happen.


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