Friday, April 11, 2014

Community Journalism: Workshop Notes

I recently gave a workshop on community journalism for a writing group in the McCauley neighbourhood. I thought I would share my notes here to try to encourage people to take part in community journalism and to inspire creative thoughts.

A. What is Community Journalism?
  • It is hyper-local as opposed to just local
  • Geographically limited in scope (such as a neighbourhood newspaper)
  • Often produced by non-professional writers/photographers (citizen media)
  • Can go into depths of community events/news/opinions overlooked by other media
  • Gives a voice to the marginalized
  • Media can include newspapers, blogs, social media
  • Value of substance over style, because it is mostly being produced by non-professionals

    B. Why Community Journalism?
  • Cover topics/events ignored by mainstream, larger media
  • To give community members a voice
  • With regards to community newspapers, to present the reality of life in a specific neighbourhood (for example, in the inner city, the good is often overlooked by other media)
  • A good place to start building a portfolio because it is easier to get published; less competitive

    C. News Versus Opinion
  • One of the most misunderstood aspects of journalism
  • News: non-personal, fact-based, written in the third person. An article or column.
  • Opinion: Personal, feelings-based, written in the first person. Editorial or letter to the editor.

    D. Assignments
  • Five minutes each; share afterwards:

    1) List a choice of themes, and ask participants to write something on that theme.
    2) Write a short news piece on something going on in your community.
    3) Write an opinion on something in the community, such as a social issue or recent happening.
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