January 14, 2010

Knight Foundation funding two more Michigan news projects

 Two Michigan organizations will benefit from the Knight Foundation's effort continued its quest to fill a growing void of news.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced Jan. 13 that 24 projects will receive  $4.3 million.

From the press release:

Project: GreenSpace
Award: $352,000
To encourage support for creating more livable communities, this grant will develop an information hub for the seven-county region of southeast Michigan that will inform residents about how to be good stewards of the area’s natural resources.

The “GreenSpace” project will bring together all the available information on the topic – benefitting anyone from a family searching for a place to hike or bike, to a resident advocating for more parks and recreation and a government official developing land use policy. The hub will encourage users to contribute content and share links to information, helping to nurture leadership and action on important issues.

(Mary Ann here: The seven counties in this southeastern Michigan are: Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston counties.)

Recipient: Michigan’s Children, a partner of The Skillman Foundation  
Project: KidSpeak Neighborhood News
Award: $126,000
As a way to boost involvement in Detroit issues, this grant will help create a multi-media youth news service, where student reports will focus on neighborhoods and schools.

Close to 40 percent of Detroit’s population is functionally illiterate, and many Detroit parents lack a high school diploma – creating obstacles to their children’s success. Also, many low-income families don’t have the Internet access that could bring them vital information about their communities.

Engaging families by providing opportunities for their children to create high quality content will help fill the communications gap, bring young voices into public debate and empower residents and communities to create positive changes.

Details on the other  projects are posted on the Knight Foundation's web site.

January 13, 2010

True story: Confessions of a tree killer

The blog is called Chattering Teeth and is worth a visit just for a look at the teeth. The author often confesses to a poor grasp of grammar and those pesty commas. Today he explains a brief blogging vacation while trying to make sense of his farewell. I'm just shocked Obama wasn't blamed :), which if you poke around the blog you'll understand why I said this.*

What makes this a different from most blog posts on a newspaper layoff is the author is finishing up 30 years on the circulation/distribution side of the business. The blog author started as a carrier, and made it up to circulation director at The Flint Journal, one of the many Advance Publications cutting back.

Read Confessions of a Tree Killer to learn more about one of the latest victims of the continuing decline of the newspaper industry. Jumping over a taller bar, and even winning at a new goal wasn't enough for the guy who had delivered "you're leaving" speeches in 2009.

The blog author and three others at The Flint Journal learned last Friday that their services would not be needed at the Newhouse organization. That includes Bonnie Raymond,** who most recently worked in human resources, in Michigan newspaper layoffs hit central Michigan. That's the same day similar notices were delivered to three full-time employees at The Jackson Citizen Patriot, at least 90 at the Kalamazoo Gazette, 65 at the Grand Rapids Press and at least 16 *** at the Muskegon Chronicle.

The Grand Rapis Press farewells include 15 in the newsroom.  In Kalamazoo, WWMT: interviewed Gazette worker Greg Dykstra who said  "There's 70 of us in my department alone, we were together everyday. We worked hard to get the paper out." The TV station posed as short video and report.

* The words in italics were added after the inital posting.)

** Yes, I do know the names of the others at The Journal and some from the other Advance Pubication newspapers. But I ask first and haven't heard back from everyone.

*** Another employee was transferred, which led to another employee's layoff.