All Hands on Deck to Get the News and Deliver It
By Tina Antolini
One of the first things that attracted me to SOTRU was the idea of telling the stories behind the news headlines– the issues that may inform our lives in a big way, but don’t make it to the top of a newscast or front page of the paper. But, that said, knowing what’s going down where we live is a vital part of having a healthy community… and these are not easy times for the news industry.
Much has been written about the floundering of traditional newspapers in the face of the internet’s increasing dominance of news dissemination. But even for web-based news organizations, the battle for financial survival is a tough one. Communications companies are shedding staff journalists at an alarming rate in favor of freelancers. And the hoard of those indies is growing steadily, as more reporters find themselves unemployed. But, as the ground shifts in the industry, the opportunities presented by the wide, wide world of the web are also expanding. It just takes some ingenuity to take advantage of them.
While prepping for SOTRU’s trip to Minnesota, I came across an organization founded to take on that experiment. The TC (for Twin Cities) Daily Planet is a web-only newspaper that combines original articles by citizen journalists and paid staffers with material republished from a whole host of community media partners– ethnic newspapers, blogs, you name it. The result is a hyper-local, diverse news source that was a treasure trove of information about the region for a curious outsider like me. But, more importantly, for Twin Cities residents it’s another voice in the shrinking news chorus, and one that is going after tandem, intertwining missions: to bring local voices to a local audience, and do so without breaking the bank.
The TC Daily Planet goes about this by forming alliances with other small news organizations, but also training residents to be active participants in news gathering and reporting. “Our model is rooted in local communities,” editor Mary Turck says, “and especially in covering under-served and under-reported communities and the issues of importance to them.” Turck says they hold weekly gatherings for workshopping articles with citizen journalists, as well as mentoring people just getting started with reporting. Could this hybrid of work from professional journalists and enthusiastic amateurs be a wave of the news-gathering future? It sure is one of the myriad possibilities…
To read the TC Daily Planet, go here.