Here are some useful links related to East Lansing Info:
My op-ed for The Guardian on the importance of nonpartisan local news
The Membership Puzzle Project’s report on audience-engagement local news
Tools for our citizen-reporters
How does FOIA work? (explanation for ELi readers)
“Your ELi” columns (explaining our work to our readers)
Some insights from doing this for four years:
- You have to teach people what journalism is and why nonpartisan news is valuable.
- The #1 trait you need in a citizen reporter is the ability to write a story clearly.
- Team work helps correct for bias, especially if you purposefully diversify the team.
- Explain tough reporting decisions to your readers. (We do “Your ELi” columns.)
- Absorb your critics: ask them to report; put them on your Community Advisory Board.
- It takes years to build up community trust and one stupid move to destroy it.
- Don’t push people past their limits. Let them play to their strengths.
- Teenagers make natural investigative reporters.
- Always be FOIAing (using the Freedom of Information Act).
- Take your time; always value quality over quantity. (Breaks are okay!)
Please note: The publication date on this post shows the date it was recreated at my new site, not the original date of publication.