Community Media Lab Proposal, April 2012

Note: Below is the proposal written to our parent company in early 2012 seeking funding for this project.

Heritage Media-West, part of the Michigan cluster of Journal Register Co. publications, has selected Ypsilanti, home of Eastern Michigan University, for a Community Media Lab. We have seen a hunger in this community for local news, and there is a large student population and academic community interested in learning and gaining hands-on experience, as well as numerous volunteers and nonprofit groups interested in sharing local news and being involved in the community.

We feel the community has been underserved by the media since the closing of its only daily newspaper decades ago. A Community Media Lab in Ypsilanti would provide a learning-based and collaborative environment, as well as a vehicle for the community to document and chronicle the important events that will shape its history, while sharing community news and diverse voices. The Community Media Lab also will provide a talent pool for Heritage Media to draw on to further our mission of bringing news and information on a variety of platforms to our audience at, while engaging them and including them in the process.

Our goal is to teach the community to gather and report news on a variety of platforms, from creating video and podcasts to photo slideshows and sound slideshows to timelines, locator maps, info graphics, live tweeting, creating Storified compilations and databases, and become collaborators with, bringing the outside in and creating a transparent community newsroom.

We believe the community is open to using new digital technologies, blogging and sharing content on social media. Some of our partners include Eastern Michigan University faculty, professional journalists, public relations gurus, videographers and photographers, as well as student journalists and community bloggers. They will help lead workshops on podcasting, videography, photography, use of social media, reporting, narrative writing, resume writing, and collaborate in other ways such as sharing content. We also plan on recruiting high school students, from across the county, who have an interest in digital media to offer them a vehicle where they can showcase their skills while getting advice and support from professional journalists.

We will have journalists on site from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the SPARK-East building, 215 W. Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti, beginning April 2, 2012, and will offer occasional workshops in the evening beginning in mid-May. Our staff will be available to work with student journalists, community contributors and community group media liaisons. Our goal is to also collaborate more with the community to crowdsource stories. A public blogging station will be set up and community contributors will be encouraged to work and learn on site at the lab, where there are comfortable chairs and desks. Those who have laptop computers, smartphones and photography/video equipment are encouraged to bring them and use them.

Some digital tools we plan to utilize include BlogTalk Radio, iPadio, Ustream, CoverItLive, Capzles, Dipity, Google Docs, GeoCommons, ManyEyes, BigHugeLabs, Audacity, Evernote, Google Voice, Caspio, Survey Monkey and iMovie. We would like to establish videographer teams, social media teams, interactive media teams, and utilize trainers, interns, bloggers and broadcasters.

Community Media Lab Ideas

BlogTalk Radio hosts: Multimedia journalists hosting podcasts with local leaders and people of interest, with ability to take call-ins and moderate a chat room during 30-minute shows. Also, opportunity for entertainment/personality talk shows, sports talk, specific topics.  (Tools: Heritage Media account and Heritage Media account to broadcast live from community events, Audacity for editing audio.)

Videographer teams: Use of Flip cams to gather interviews and “B” roll of breaking news, live news events, feature pieces, events coverage and or weekly shows (talk show, cooking show, local arts/entertainment show, how-to shows, etc.). Potential to have content broadcast on WADL, Channel 38. (Tools: iMovie, Ustream)

Social media teams: Establish separate Heritage Community Media Lab Facebook, Twitter, Google+ accounts and build brand. Promote work of Community Media Lab, interact with audience, crowdsource future projects and story leads, use Twitter as a newswire, and recruit more members for Community Media Lab. (Tools: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Hoot Suite, Listorious, Tweetbeep, Tweetscan, askTwitr)

Photographers: Create photo slideshows and sound slideshows capturing and using audience’s voice to share images and stories chronicling community events. (Tools: Google Voice, Evernote, iMovie, Audacity, Capzles, Flickr, BigHugeLabs, PhotoPeach)

Bloggers: Community bloggers set up topical and issue-oriented blogs that can be repurposed and promoted in print. Both blogger and Heritage Media will promote on social media. (Tools: Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Posterous, Movable Type, Live Journal)

Live chats: Organize, set up and moderate live chats with local leaders and on interesting subjects. Work with social media team to promote. (Tools: CoverItLive, Twitter, Google+ Chat Room, Skype)

Trainers: Train community members and local organizations to establish individual blogs, create photo slideshows, shoot and produce video, produce and package content to share with media. Create PowerPoints. (Tools: Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Capzles, Flickr, Capzles, iMovie, Google Docs, PowerPoint)

Interactive media teams: Create databases, polls, maps, timelines and info graphics to complement online content. (Tools:  GeoCommons, SurveyMonkey, Caspio, Scribd, ManyEyes, Dipity)

Interns: Paired up with individual reporters, who will serve as mentors. Interns to help conduct research, report, produce video and/or audio, assist in crowdsourcing, promoting content and working with Community Media Labbers to develop multimedia components to complement work.

Citizen journos team: Community members interested in covering government meetings, writing features, writing columns and community news will be trained and encouraged to contribute to our website, publication and their own blogs.

Community Media Lab Workshops

Classes would be offered at different times throughout the day and evening. A Heritage Media staff member would be on hand during set hours for members of the public to speak to about story leads and other news tips. Workshops will include the following and more will be added as needs are expressed:

*A basic blogging class, which already has course material and was taught previously at the Saline Senior Center, would be offered for those interested in starting a blog.

*A class on social media and how to effectively use it for yourself, your organization or your business.

*A class for college students looking at applying for internships and jobs, and the things to do to prepare for them.

*A class on how to properly write press releases, what news organizations are looking for in them, how to properly submit them and alternative ways to present news.

*A class on Google Docs and how to use it as part of a collaborative process.

*An intermediate class on blogging, including monetizing blogs and narrowing your specific message and subject matter.

*A basic video editing course to encourage user-generated video, “video press releases” and other types of community-submitted material.

And we’re open to more ideas. If you want to teach a workshop or have an idea for one, please let us know. We also want to hear from people who are interested in taking on a larger role in the Community Media Lab with the understanding that no one is paid for their time in the lab as it’s a community partnership. Email Michelle Rogers at




6 thoughts on “Community Media Lab Proposal, April 2012

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