Examples of community newsrooms

To help out a fellow blogger I have tried to post a recent article I wrote for the NUJ magazine The Journalist. Unfortunately, there is no online version of The Journalist, just an e-zine which is hardly idea. I have managed to copy and paste part of my article but not the main part as issuu doesn’t make copy and paste easy.

Page 15

Open engagement

Shoreham Bfong Project

When residents of Shoreham-on- Sea saw that an empty shop had been taken over, they discovered that it had been turned into a newsroom for one day only. The project, organised by the Brighton Future of News Group (Bfong) and Dan Robinson, a social entrepreneur who specialises in reusing empty shops on a temporary basis, brought together journalists and members to tell the story of Shoreham through words and pictures. Bfong host Sarah Booker says some locals came to the event because they wanted to talk about Shoreham with journalists, while others were simply curious about what was happening in the shop. Bfong member Judith Townend, says the shop offered a sociable and less formal setting. She says one interviewee wanted to see how her story would be presented, and before it went online they looked at it together. “It wouldn’t be a suitable or efficient way to conduct all journalism clearly, but it was interesting to make use of the time and informal environment and be able to experiment with different methods for these type of blog features,” she notes. http://shorehambfongproject.tumblr.com/

Leeds Community Hub

The Guardian and Leeds Trinity University Collage’s collaboration is prompted by a desire to connect with the community and to help them unearth the stories that matter to them. “We had very good working relationship with Leeds Trinity journalism school, which also wants to reach out into the community so it seemed a good match,” says Sarah Hartley, Guardian Local’s launch editor. The project has been marketed at community groups and people active in their neighbourhoods. Hartley says this kind of project is particularly important for those who are not digitally engaged at present. But she admits that the community hub is not a particularly new idea. “I remember in the late 90s when I worked at Northern Echo there was an experiment with an internet cafe below the Darlington newsroom,’ she recalls. “I don’t know how successful that was for newsgathering or co-operation but why not provide a reason for people to drop in?” http://www.leedstrinity. ac.uk/news_events/news/ Pages/Leeds_Community_News_Hub_opens_for_ business.aspx

News: From the Field

When Kelly Metz’s newspaper The Morning Journal was building up its relationship with readers through social media, she read that The Register Citizen in Connecticut was opening a newsroom café in its building. She decided to create her own version in Lorain, Ohio. “We have a growing relationships with readers over these social media outlets, however, they still don’t really see us,” she says. “Because we don’t have that option of a cafe newsroom here, I decided to turn a small corner of a coffee shop into the newsroom.” Metz approached the owner of a café who agreed and also let her post on his Facebook page. While she says readers haven’t come with ideas in person, they like the fact she is making herself known. “If newsrooms don’t think they should be more open to the readers, they might as well plan an eventual decline in readership both in the online and print editions.” http://fieldlessons.wordpress.com/


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