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

Leading Change Summit

September 3, 2014 - September 6, 2014

Engage with diverse voices to ignite new ideas. Activate your strategies with expert advice and planning tools. Change the way you create impact. All at NTEN's inaugural Leading Change Summit.

ASNE-APME 2014: Fast Forward

September 15, 2014 - September 17, 2014

The first joint conference of the American Society of News Editors and Associated Press Media Editors.

Collab/Space Chicago, September 24

September 24, 2014 - September 24, 2014

An all-day, hands-on workshop focused on media innovation and spotlighting cutting-edge media startups –  in the Chicago area and beyond. 

Online News Association 2014 Conference

September 25, 2014 - September 27, 2014

A rare opportunity to network face-to-face, and share best practices with peers from all over the map at the ONA annual conference in Chicago.

New Avenues in Journalism

October 10, 2014

To help independent writers negotiate the changing terrain of journaism, ASJA is bringing thought leaders and innovators to San Francisco for a two-day conference

LION Summit: Innovation for Local Digital Media Entrepreneurs

October 16, 2014

Local indie publishers and industry experts will convene in Chicago for the second LION Publishers Summit.

Submit an event

How Storyful connects social media users to news orgs

By Melissa Kaplan
7/9/2014 | 12:06 am GMT

A big hurdle facing news organizations that want to source content from social media users is the ability to verify...

New book studies challenges of small newspapers

By Michele McLellan
6/12/2014 | 9:18 am GMT

A new book, Saving Community Journalism: The Path to Profitability, explores the challenges and opportunities that smaller local news organizations face...