The Rapidian

The full story: Writing about our community includes more than cultural events

The Rapidian's editor talks about the importance of "hard news" reporting: governement, infrastructure, commerce, and education are an important part of our story.
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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.

2011 Millage Results from the May 3 vote

2011 Millage Results from the May 3 vote /Nikos Monoyios

Denise Cheng, our Citizen Journalism Coordinator here at The Rapidian, wrote an excellent article recently about the importance of news coverage of our cultural events, what old-school journalists would perhaps deem “fluff.” The fact is, the wrongly-labeled “fluff” is the local stuff that makes up our daily lives. We want to share our daily lives with each other, so when working as a hyperlocal citizen news source, this is of course what we want to share with each other. “News you can use,” so to speak.

We do really well with the above, and we shouldn’t have to make excuses for that. Recent events, however, reminded me that this important part of the story is only a part of the story. May 3’s vote regarding the Rapid millage got quite a bit of pre-coverage on The Rapidian as well. There were opinion pieces, videos, interviews and informational pieces.

Much like the arts and culture articles are reflective of a part of our lives that we’re passionate about, it was evident that our citizen journalists were passionate about public transportation. Both have to do with quality of life, and in our drive to improve quality of life, we want to speak out.

The map of voting results from Nikos Monoyios, Senior Planner at The Rapid, is telling. We as Grand Rapidians had a majority voting for the millage increase. Those on the outskirts, however, didn’t. The further away from common use the voters were, the less likely to get a yes vote for this infrastructure support.

I was glad to see all the coverage of the millage vote, but I also realized that too often there are important things happening in our government, our commerce and our schools that don’t get much discussion or coverage. It’s easy to get caught up in our daily lives of events and concerts happenings. We forget that the very structure of our city is being formed and reformed all around us, and too often we are not involved. 

We are not speaking up and we are not sharing this information with each other. Are we simply unaware of the effects of these things in our lives? Have we become apathetic? Do we think there is nothing we can do about them?

Unlike traditional news sources, The Rapidian is structured in a way that there is always something we can do about what’s going on in our city. We can speak up. We can share information. We can inform and educate our fellow citizens. And we can start conversations so that we can learn more ourselves.

So, dear readers and writers, let’s start sharing that information. Let’s start investigating what’s going on and getting our neighbors informed. 

If you are a reader and you see some “hard news” that you know needs attention, there are two ways you can help your community. One, of course, is to join the citizen journalist ranks and become a reporter for The Rapidian. (I promise we won’t bite.) 

The other option for our readers is to post a story pitch in our Storybank: Let our reporters know what they could report on. These story pitches get perused regularly for reporters looking for an important event or issue to write about. Don’t be shy: let us know what you want to see on our pages.

And reporters: Maybe it's time to give a try at different kinds of reporting in pursuit of quality of life in Grand Rapids. There are a lot of ways to mine for information, raw data like CRI waiting to be utilized. Interviews can be as  simple and unthreatening as a “Hello, you’re doing some interesting things. Can I ask you a couple questions to help inform our citizens?” 

You may well find that reporting about issues gets our apathy out of its rut and propels us all to more action. As Rapidian staff and editorial mentors, we promise to be here for whatever support you need to get over the initial learning curves needed.

We’re doing this together, after all: the daily life and the structures that hold it up. 

It’s all our news.

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Comments

as someone focused on the culture contributions, I sometimes feel that I should be hitting something more "serious" myself... i really admire the work of some of the people who have done harder hitting stories, like Manes and Tuffelmire for example...

 

i also think the community focus really says something about the people in that community. In GR it is art, music, culture, and sustainability that take the lead because those are important values prevelant in this community. I think other towns, like Springfield Illinois for example, you might see a heavy focus on politics and labor rights and that type of stuff... other towns it would be racial and social justice? ... technology and health? different communities, different focal points...I for one have a few ideas that I may try in the near future, try and step out of my comfort zone a litlle... looking forward to seeing what other people get out of this article

I agree-we are lucky to live in a community that *does* value the arts and cultural events-and as an artist I want to see more reviews, more conversation. i affirm denise's assertion that this is not "fluff," it's important stuff. 

we need it all! i hope this article encourages others like yourself to take that leap into a different kind of reporting than they may normally lean towards-to share another part of the news going on in their communities. 

 

to me, it's not an either/or and it's definitely not a hierarchical system: we need both in our lives. one is not more important than the other.

 

keep writing!

we need all the community's voices!

All of it a statement of our pursuit for quality of life!

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