Citizen Journalism: Increasing Civic Engagement

July 30, 2009 at 11:37 am Leave a comment

Coming September 2009

Coming September 2009

Today is an exciting day. After months of community meetings, volunteers, committees and more, Grand Rapids, Michigan is on the cusp of having a new community powered news and information platform: The Rapidian. I say “on the cusp” because today The Rapidian launch countdown clock went LIVE.

On September 15, at 4pm, “The Rapidian” will officially come to life.

Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, this experiment is a robust attempt to increase the flow of local news and information by providing tools, training and platforms for residents to become hyper-local content providers in text, video and audio.

Grand Rapids, along with many US cities, is suffering from the downsizing of commercial media outlets. At the same time, neighborhoods are feeling that their issues and stories are not being covered well.

The Rapidian is being designed as both a physical and a virtual project. Physical bureaus will be established in neighborhood-based locations. At these bureaus, neighbors can receive equipment and training, and engage in face-to-face collaboration around news gathering for their immediate area. On the web, visitors will have many options for organizing and personalizing their information streams by location, topics or even journalists.

At the GR Community Media Center, we are honored to be heading up these efforts.  It’s wonderful to see the amazing energy that is being contributed by the community in the form of committees, promotion and training offers. 300 people have joined our initial Facebook group and many more are following on Twitter. I see a community becoming more and more mobilized to ensure that we can be better informed and more engaged. I am also recognizing the immense value of creating a strong face-to-face component to a local project like this.

If you’re interested in keeping track, visit The Rapidian splash page and sign on to follow the progress. We think it’s going to be great!

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