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Community journalism workshop sparks discussion, features new reporter worksheet

The Rapidian's Community Journalism Workshop yesterday brought a group of citizens interested in learning more in depth about community journalism and publishing on local online journalism.
by Elizabeth Rogers Drouillard

by Elizabeth Rogers Drouillard

The Community Workshop was the second in a series of three events meant to engage community and educate Grand Rapidians on community journalism and the people's media. We aim to provide our readers and writers with the tools to craft their own stories and publish on The Rapidian. Join us for our third event celebrating The Rapidian on September 15th.

Yesterday at noon, The Rapidian held our Community Journalism Workshop at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. We had a light lunch courtsey of Cherry Deli and got into the particulars of writing and publishing on our website. Kiran Sood Patel, Rapidian managing editor, introduced the team and spoke a bit about our past events in our community journalism series before handing the floor over to the team. My presentation centered on creating and crafting news pieces on the website, touching on everything from where to get ideas for issues and topics to cover to how to ask for interviews and get quotes for pieces and articles.

In turn, there was great conversation and questions from attendees regarding many topics from demographics and writing to your crowd, whether or not multiple members of an organization can access a nonprofit account on The Rapidian (they may), and how to challenge bias in reporting (something we discuss often in office!).

Breannah Alexander, Rapidian contributor and racial equity advocate with Partners for Racism-Free Community, was our featured community journalist presenting at the event. She spoke to her experiences on publishing and touched upon journalistic integrity, objectivity and bias as a writer and social justice advocate and community, and gave excellent tips about how to navigate online journalism, critiques and having bias and opinions on social justice issues while being an employee of a nonprofit.

At the event, we also presented and walked through our two new Rapidian reporter sheets, the Nonprofit Reporter Sheet and the Community Journalist Sheet.

Our aim with each sheet is to assist the community with writing and crafting an article. It leads you through every step of building an article from what to write about, why quotes are important, and tips on how to structure pieces so that when you are done, you will have a full-fledged piece ready for publishing on The Rapidian.

The Nonprofit Reporter Sheet has tips for organizations who want to get the word out about events and the communities they serve in an interesting and compelling manner. The Community Journalist sheets are for individual Grand Rapidians who want to tell their story or report news or an event in their community.

We will have these sheets available on our website, in our office, during events, pitch meetings and reporter trainings, and to hand out when meeting one on one with staff. They will also be available at the Bridge Street location of the Grand Rapids Community Media Center.

It was important for us to craft a simple page you can fill out and write out to help people exercise their article creation skills and gain more confidence in the reporting process. The more we can do to reduce the barriers to citizens telling their stories and to simplify navigating community journalism, the better. I believe that you don't need to have a formal background in journalism to create great news. With this new tool, we'll show you just how easy it is to get started!

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

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