Two newsrooms in two countries, with a shared purpose:
service-learning public interest journalism.
Speaking truth to power. Impacting policy. Inspiring citizens to take action. Training the next generation of multimedia journalists.
HAITI GRASSROOTS WATCH
Following the devastating 2010 earthquake, I oversaw a new collaboration of two Haitian non-profit media organizations and the country's women's community radio animators network. We created Haiti Grassroots Watch, an investigative journalism consortium modeled on some of the best of the university-based "new newsrooms" in the U.S.
Working together, community radio volunteers, young Haitian reporters and two dozen of the top students from the country's first-ever university-level investigative journalism course produced 39 reports over 40 months. Text, audio and video in Haitian Creole, French, English and Spanish were seen, heard and read throughout Haiti and around the world, exposing wasteful housing construction, shocking camp conditions, "sex-for-work," secretive and sometimes-illegal mining, scams, ruses, and just plain bad policy. The team also coordinated dozens of screenings and discussions around the country.
Check out the investigations here. Learn more here and here [pdf] and here. Or watch this 2011 "annual report video." Did the stories have impact? They changed some hiring practices, inspired countless follow-up articles and documentaries, and the "Gold Rush!" dossier brought scrutiny to rampant mining exploration. As of June 2015, the English-language version of the gold video had been played over 50,000 times. Check it out:
SOMERVILLE NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS
In 2013, Somerville Community Access TV (SCATV) decided the city needed more local news coverage that paid attention to the city's diverse communities and rapid gentrification. I was contracted to design and pilot the Somerville Neighborhood News, and to serve as its first News Director.
Incorporating best practices from Haiti Grassroots Watch and from other cablecast newscasts around New England, the bimonthly show soon evolved into a multimedia website with video segments and text stories that are often carried in print and online editions of local weeklies like the Somerville Journal and Somerville Times. An audio version runs on Boston Free Radio.
Students from Somerville High School and from the greater Boston area's top communications and journalism undergraduate and graduate programs work with community members and with SCATV staff under the News Director's tutelage to cover everything from committee meetings to federal immigration policy, all with particular attention paid to human rights, social justice and the city's diverse populations.
During my tenure (October 2013-May 2015), staff and some two dozen students produced 40 newscasts with more than 200 segments.
Here's a look at some of the students and community volunteers: