The Rapidian

Being The Rapidian in 2011

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From The Rapidian Staff

Each week, a Rapidian staffer will publish a piece related to goings-on at The Rapidian, developments in the world of citizen journalism and tips for making the most of the site. Click here for past editorials.

Fortune Cookie Holding Hands

Fortune Cookie Holding Hands /Steven Depolo (from the Rapidian Flickr pool)

There is something about the end of a year and the start of a new one that energizes me. I don't make resolutions; but write goals for things I want to accomplish. I also find the end of the year a time where I reflect (usually fondly) on what I've done and the connections I've made with people and places. The Rapidian was a large part of my life in 2010.

I encourage you, as you look to 2011, to use The Rapidian to tell the stories that are important to you. For The Rapidian to be fully successful readers need to join in by making comments, writing an article, submitting  a photo to The Rapidian Flickr pool, doing a Q &A with an interesting person, making a video or audio recording to share with the community. If you think The Rapidian is lacking in coverage in an area, it is up to you to change that and by becoming involved.

The Rapidian has connected me to some wonderful people and interesting experiences in 2010. I'm very proud  to work with the people who energetically shepherd the site: Denise Cheng, Laurie Cirivello, George Wietor and the wizard behind the screen web guy, Ron Woldyk. They are all good listeners and trouble-shooters.

Some of the highlights of my  year with The Rapidian include a co-production of a video with Nick Manes about the first Grand Rapids Beer Mile. Not only did I get to drink four beers and run a mile, I edited Nick's video about the event. The Rapidian has FLIP cameras for reporters to use.

Writing for The Rapidian doesn't have to be complicated or dense. I wrote profiles of nine runners of varied skill levels who would be running the 5/3 River Bank Run. I asked them each the same kind of questions and put the stories together in a q & a format. Here's one with Chad Engbers.

Being part of The Rapidian is being part of a citizen reporter community. For a large project, The Rapidan staff asked people to write about restaurants and bars in the context of ArtPrize. These 40 short pieces with images and maps exposed artists and their work to new audiences and let people know where they could eat and drink during ArtPrize. This one by Lisa Rose Starner about San Chez Bistro is a great example.

Being a reporter for The Rapidian is a responsibility I take seriously and while writing fun stuff is mostly what I like to do, I have written a few pieces that are more real news than fun. I was honored to work on this piece with photographer Steven Depolo about the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. We were treated with the same respect as other news media and were able to participate in preview tours. I spent time thinking about the angle of this story, what could I say that was different than the rest of the media. I found attracting physician talent to West Michigan to be a good hook. Yes, citizen reporters are real news reporters.

Sometimes when writing a story, the reporter finds that one a single story will not suffice.  Such is the case with the well-read series on homelessness in Heartside that Michael Tuffelmire wrote. While writing such a large and well-researched series might seem daunting, the deadlines and content are set by you. That's one great aspect of being a citizen journalist. I found this to be true when I started to write about barefoot running a subject I knew little about. There were more experts, people and angles than I could put into one piece, so I wrote a three part series and while doing it, met people (and learned things) I would have never otherwise known.

While I've never ventured into controversial territory in my own reporting, those who can stand the heat and enjoy lively civil discourse have a home on The Rapidian. These two well-thought out pieces about ArtPrize by Mark Rumsey and Mara Naselli provoked conversation and comment.

This year my goal is to write or produce at least 50 pieces for The Rapidian. This is a commitment of couple of hours of work each week, but it is volunteer work that is meaningful and important to this community. I hope other people who share my passion for storytelling and learning will be part of The Rapidian, too.

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 "BEING" the Rapidian... very nice idea, to paraphrase KRS ONE  "the Rapidian isn't something you do, it's something you ARE"... good article too!

Appreciate your reading and commenting. And your contributions. Here's to a content-filled 2011.

Hip, hip, hip hooray!

The rarely seen Ron always comes through! Cheer, cheer, cheer!

I've been keeping an eye on the Rapidian with the intent to get involved "at some point"...  I keep waiting for the time to free itself up.  Obviously, a year later, that approach hasn't worked.  So I think I'll take your cue and set a goal (if perhaps a more modest one).  3 stories by April!  Thanks for the nudge.

Thanks for the comment and I do hope you'll create some content for The Rapidian. It is such a great platform for ideas and information. Jump in anytime. Look forward to what you have to share.

Thanks, Roberta, for this piece. Last year, I wanted to write more for the Rapidian, but felt overwhelmed by all of the choices in front of me. You've got me thinking about where to focus, and setting a manageable goal for myself. I look forward to seeing and contributing to what The Rapidian will do in 2011.