Community Reporters Catching On

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Community Reporters Catching On

Postby jon » Tue Jul 12, 2011 5:15 pm

Get involved in the Edmonton Journal community newsroom
Help us name the newsroom and you could win an iPad
By Barb Wilkinson,
July 12, 2011

We're building a vibrant new community newsroom at The Journal.

It will be a place for you to help report on news in our community, share photos, stories or videos, and send us data to be mapped and analyzed.

We want to reach out to the experts in the community, tap into your passions, and build bridges into areas we haven't yet reached. By working with you, we can share more about what's going on in Edmonton and northern Alberta - and find out why it's important to you.

You'll get a chance to contribute to the stories our professional journalists are working on, adding your expertise and first-hand experiences. It's about collective wisdom: a story or project with many voices should will have more impact - or simply be more fun.

There will be several phases to the community newsroom, and once we have launched the first we will use that base to build electronic "meeting places" where we can bring together communities of interest around areas like high school sports or non-profit groups. The potential is exciting and we can't wait to see where it takes us.

Which is why we're also creating a local advisory board to help shape this project. If you'd like to be part of this 10-member volunteer committee, which starts its work in September, please see the info below for more details.

We want to build this community newsroom from the beginning with your help - a contest to find a name. Community Insider is our working title. Can you come up with something better?

Click here ( ... story.html) to give us your ideas. The winner will get an iPad and a $150 gift certificate for dinner at Sorrentino's.

Anytime you can contact me on twitter at @ejbarbwilkinson or email me at

I'm happy to listen to your ideas, talk about the project and discuss the rapidly changing craft of journalism.

For me, maybe there's a community out there we can build around red shoes, lattes, Juventus soccer and book clubs.

And chocolate. Always chocolate.


Local Advisory Board

If you would like to be part of the conversation and help lead the development of a community newsroom at the Edmonton Journal, please send an email of no more than 200 words explaining why you'd like to join our community newsroom team.

We'll meet once a month at the downtown Journal building to get your input, but will also use electronic ways to exchange information with each other, editors and reporters. We need to know what our community cares about the most, and how we're doing in developing these special links with you and your networks.

This is a pilot program, so we'll be starting small but growing quickly and determinedly. This is your opportunity to get in at the beginning and see what we can do together.

Email deputy editor, innovation and engagement, Barb Wilkinson at: by July 31, 2011


Readers in the News

Reader content, whether it's stories, photos, tweets or Facebook comments, are already an important part of our journalistic fact-gathering process. Some recent examples include:

- Our coverage of the May 15 Slave Lake fire included photographs sent in by readers, including the cover shot of a special section in the print edition of The Journal by town resident Shane O'Brien.

- 4,000 readers joined the debate on the proposed downtown arena while columnist David Staples live-blogged city council's discussion on April 6.

- We started our federal election coverage by asking readers what they wanted us to do. Your questions were presented at live-blogged editorial boards with the major political parties, and we had live chats for both debates and election night. We also did an exit poll the day of the vote.

- This spring, we did a four-day series about potholes, and asked readers to map the worst of the craters around the city.

- We invited our friends on Facebook to take a fun quiz to see which of our high-profile writers they were most like.


Living on the Edge

Journal reporter Elise Stolte has a summer beat, Living on the Edge, that is one of the first at The Journal to build more transparency and collaboration into the reporting process. Stolte launched the beat about newer communities in the city on the first day of summer and has been blogging and tweeting almost daily about where she is going and what she has discovered about life in the suburbs. This hasn't replaced having coffee with neighbourhood leaders or interviewing traditional sources but is an example of how the new tools can make journalism better.

Data journalist Lucas Timmons has added another layer to the project by using Google's new application, fusion tables, and mapping Edmonton's neighbourhoods with information like schools, emergency services and playgrounds.

If you haven't had a look at the series yet - the stories are all geo-located on a map - please start today. You can see what's been done so far, offer your ideas for a story or suggest layers of data that should be added to the map.

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Community Reporters Catching On

Postby jon » Tue Jul 12, 2011 5:26 pm

There was a lot of talk about, including a Broadcast Dialogue article by Doug Rutherford, the concept of Community Reporters when iNews880 first signed on in Edmonton. Hyperlocal News, I think he called it.

Advocates said it harkened back to the CHQT (iNews880's call letters) of years gone by: "Closest to the Community" was their primary slogan for many years. Critics said it threatened the quality of reporting, by using non-broadcasters as reporters. Cynics focused on the fact that they didn't get paid.

Obviously, Edmonton Journal management thinks the idea has legs. So far, no other PostMedia newspaper has made a similar announcement, so the iNews880 connection is hard to pass off as coincidence.
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Re: Community Reporters Catching On

Postby freqfreak2 » Tue Jul 12, 2011 9:17 pm

jon wrote:Cynics focused on the fact that they didn't get paid.

No doubt print media beancounters have suddenly woken up to the same conclusion. Can't wait for an announcement concerning the Journal's weekly cash award.
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