Tools and tips you can use to leverage your resources
It is one thing to decide you want to start a community Web site. And you probably did it out of passion — you either had things you wanted to say, or you thought that a particular story or topic wasn’t getting the attention it needed, or you thought coverage by the “mainstream” media in your community just wasn’t getting the job done.
Eventually, though, you might realize that revolutionizing coverage in your community might be easier if you had some help. You need to work smarter. You need to find some outside resources, even if you can’t afford to buy them in traditional ways. (You also need to realize that you are not alone — virtually everyone who starts a CitMedia site is in the same boat.)
So, we’ve written this six-chapter online training module to provide some tools to help you cope with the challenges you’re likely facing.
And not just any tools. You’ll find a widget that will create a Census graphic based on a ZIP code a user chooses; you’ll see real documents of media partnering agreements and writing workshops; and you’ll watch videos of “crowdsourcing” experts.
The module is created by two news veterans who now devote their time to teaching the ever-evolving tools of the trade. One is Wendell Cochran, director of the Journalism Division at the School of Communication at American University. He brings 40 years of experience in print and online, with a specialty in both investigative reporting and in tracking campaign financing. The other is Amy Eisman, director of writing programs at SOC, a long-time editor who has devoted much of her time recently to teaching Web writing and presentation both in the classroom and in the newsroom.
Behind every great story is a great idea. In this section you’ll find out where to find ideas, how to recognize good ideas and how to get your community involved in helping you generate ideas. Here’s a hint: coffee might be involved.
Once you have the idea, how do you go about turning it into a story? This section looks at an example of how you might have explained the story of a controversial rezoning in a historic neighborhood.
This section looks at how to use data and data-based tools to extend reporting. We’ve also built a nifty little “widget” to create a Census data graphic you could link to your site. We also explain the technology behind it.
Passion drives most citizen media sites. But even the passionate get tired and could use some help. This section uses real-world examples from citizen journalism sites to show you how to recruit, train and retain writers.
Another way to extend your reach is by building partnerships with others in your community. Some CitMedia sites share content with other media organizations. An Ohio site worked a deal to get free delivery of its print version.
One of the hottest trends in journalism is “crowdsourcing,” which simply means getting audience members to help you find and report stories. We show examples and short videos to explain how you can put it to work for you.