Not a member? Sign up

Partnerships help citizen news sites gain visibility and engage community

by: Michele McLellan |

Noah Erenberg, convener for Winnipeg's Community News Commons, spends a lot of time training contributors to the citizen news site. He holds workshops that reach different segments of the community, thanks to partnerships with a local library, a college and the city's newspaper - The Winnipeg Free Press, which launched the Free Press Cafe, where the CNC regularly trains contributors.

"Our three primary partners are key to our steady growth and early success," Erenberg said in an email, providing space for workshops, professional expertise and publicity. In return, Erberg believes partnering with the Community News Commons, a project of The Winnipeg Foundaiton, helps the local organizations deepen their own engagement with the community in the digital age.

"What we’re doing with CNC is exactly what newspapers, colleges and libraries need to do anyways in this day and age in order to survive. They need to find different, more interesting, more compelling and more engaging ways to connect to the public," Erenberg said.

The primary college partner, Red River College, has made submissions to CNC part of the curriculum for about 100 first and second year journalism students, he said.

Erenberg said he is working to develop additional partnerships, including recruiting journalism and writing students from other local colleges and schools.

In Akron, Ohio, a partnership with the local library significantly raised visibility and public participation for akronist.com, a project of the Akron Community Foundation. The training arm of the project, Akron Digital Media Center, has a lab and training are on the main floor of the downtown library.

The partnership has been so successful that the foundation is building a production studio at the library. Miller plans to begin producing television broadcast programs next year and hopes to forge collaborations with other local media outlets, including newspapers and radio stations. The project will produce videos for one local radio station in exchange for on-air mentions and marketing. Like Winnipeg, Miller is also working with a local university to gain contributors and tailor training to young people.

The Rapidian in Grand Rapids, Michigan, partners with neighborhood organizations that have trust and credibility in their areas, using a train-the-trainer model, according to Holly Bechiri, managing editor.

For example, one organization in poor, predominantly African-American neighborhood has help residents learn how to use The Rapdian platform. Another organization in a Latina neighbhood has created a "Press Club" for children who interview people (including the mayor) and review plays and the circus, Bechiri said.

"It's amazing to see their skills develop over time as they get more confident and continue to learn more about how to tell a story in journalism form," she said.

Previously: Citizen reporting: Sweet spot for local information and engagement?

This blog is made possible by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The three citizen reporting efforts covered in this post received support from the Knight Community Information Challenge.

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Michele McLellan

Michele McLellan is a writer, editor and consultant who works on projects that help strengthen the emerging local news ecosystem,
Read More

Events
Submit an event

2015 Philanthropy Southwest Spring Summit

April 19, 2015 - April 22, 2015

Save the Date! Philanthropy Southwest's 2015 Spring Conference will be held at the AT & T Executive Education and Conference Center, The University of Texas in Austin, Texas! Check back here for additional details as they become available.

Summer 2015 Journalism Ethnics Fellowship

May 24, 2015

The May 24-June 7, 2015 program is sponsored by Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics in collaboration with The Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. Applications are being accepting for a fellowship, which uses the conduct of journalists during the Holocaust and in Nazi Germany as a launching point for an intensive two-week summer program on contemporary journalism ethics.

IRE 2015 Annual Conference, June 4-7

June 4, 2015

The Investigative Reporters & Editors annual conference in Philadelphia attracts the best in the business and offers more than 150 panels, hands-on classes and special presentations about covering business, public safety, government, health care, education, the military, the environment and other key beats.

2015 Ippies Journalism Awards Ceremony

Thu, June 11, 2015 12:00 am

The Ippies is a journalism awards ceremony to honor reporting in English and languages other than English by the ethnic and community press.

Allied Media 2015 Annual Conference, June 18-21

June 18, 2015

Save the date for the 17th annual Allied Media Conference, June 18-21, 2015 in Detroit.

New Civics Practitioners Conference

Wed, June 24, 2015 12:00 am - Thu, June 25, 2015 12:00 am

New Civics Practitioners Conference to Help Educators Support the Next Generation of Civically Active Youth

Philanthropy Southwest 2015 Annual conference

October 22, 2015

Save the Date! Philanthropy Southwest's 67th Annual Conference will be held in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Submit an event

24% of teens go online "almost constantly" on their smartphones

By Nancy Yoshihara
4/13/2015 | 10:07 pm GMT

Mobile devices have become a primary driver of teen Internet use with 24% of teenagers reporting going online “almost constantly”...

Knight study looks at whether nonprofit news sites are "Gaining Ground"

By KDMC Staff
4/8/2015 | 3:42 pm GMT

A new study from the Knight Foundation takes a look at 20 nonprofit news sites and their progress in becoming...