The Rapidian

Community journalism is a way to let your voice be heard

Thank you to all who attended our Intro to Community Journalism at Wealthy Theatre. We'll host our Community Journalism Workshop on August 29 at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.
Members of the community arrive and share their passions Thursday, August 18 at Wealthy Theatre's micro-cinema.

Members of the community arrive and share their passions Thursday, August 18 at Wealthy Theatre's micro-cinema. /Briana Urena-Ravelo

Briana Urena-Ravelo defines community journalism during our event Thursday, August 18 at Wealthy Theatre's micro-cinema.

Briana Urena-Ravelo defines community journalism during our event Thursday, August 18 at Wealthy Theatre's micro-cinema. /Kiran Sood Patel

Thursday evening, The Rapidian presented the first of three events being held this summer and early fall. Intro to Community Journalism with The Rapidian served as a kickoff to the series. Our hope with each of these events is to foster conversation and community. Bringing people together for in person exchange and dialogue helps build bridges and creates connections between Grand Rapidians. Plus, the events are a lot of fun.

The goal of our first event was to present a foundation for The Rapidian’s mission – championing the voices and stories of community journalists on a platform that is entirely the community’s. The event began with presentations from myself (managing editor), and Linda Gellasch, executive director of Grand Rapids Community Media Center.

From there, Briana Ureña-Ravelo, Rapidian community engagement specialist, covered our bases – what is community journalism, who is a community journalist and why does this matter?

Some key takeaways are as follows: community journalism is people-powered and driven by the community, not by revenue. Stories and photos are meant to be educational, empowering and informative. Content is accurate, local and relevant to people who live in and around Grand Rapids.

Relationship building is important, and that’s because readers and content consumers are among our greatest assets. We provide the platform, tools and techniques to allow community reporters and non-profits the ability to publish stories. We also have the ability to provide one-on-one trainings for those with additional questions.

The question of why community journalism is an important one. During the session, participants went around and introduced themselves and had the chance to ask a question about something that mattered to them in particular. One of the fastest and most sure-fire ways to ensure a topic that matters to you is covered is to feel empowered to tackle it yourself. During our session, participants voiced concerns and questions about a wide variety of topics, from the homeless population along Division Street in Grand Rapids to the importance of having a bus route to provide connectivity. Another participant wanted to highlight the importance of registering to vote early, how you can do this and why this matters.

Community journalism is a way to let your voice be heard and to tell the stories and news that you value in your community, Briana explained.  

Elizabeth Rogers-Drouillard, The Rapidian's Place Matters content coordinator, highlighted examples of pieces that have taken off and spurred conversation in the past. Most recently, a piece written by community journalist Andrew Sisson asked one question: "Gentrification or revitalization: which is it?" Sisson's article was shared hundreds of times and prompted an important discussion on the minds of Grand Rapidians. What resonates with one reader may inspire another to add their own thoughts to the conversation.

With the foundation set, the next step is to learn how to begin crafting your own stories. On August 29, from 12 to 2 p.m., The Rapidian will present our Community Journalism Workshop. Our free session will include a light lunch and will be held at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, an organization that also champions and empowers community voices. During this session, we will share our new one-page reporter sheet that will help start the process of creating an article on The Rapidian. We'll also have opportunities to talk with other community reporters. We look forward to seeing you August 29 at the Foundation, 185 Oakes St. SW. Please RSVP through the invitation on our Facebook page

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.

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