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KQED News Partnerships Bring You More Bay Area Coverage

Kwan Booth talks with a woman while covering 2010 Freshfest for Oakland Local.

KQED News now provides even broader coverage of the Bay Area through partnerships with several local blogs—the result of KQED's participation in Networked Journalism, a national program connecting established news organizations with blogs in their communities.

KQED community news coordinator Molly Samuel took some time to discuss the program and how it will help keep you informed about what's happening in all corners of the Bay Area.

What is the Networked Journalism program?
Networked Journalism is a grant program funded by J-Lab, a center focused on innovations in journalism that's based at the communications department at American University. The project helps more established news organizations create partnerships with hyperlocal blogs and newer entrepreneurial local news sites. Other participants include The Seattle Times, The Oregonian, The Miami Herald, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. All told, there are nine media organizations with J-Lab grants across the country, and they're each working with at least five partners. That's a lot of news being shared and collaborated on.

Each organization has had its own approach. The Seattle Times, for instance, links to dozens of neighborhood blogs from its local news partners section. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette works with its partners to create a free-standing website around one topic.

Overall, there's a real spirit of experimentation behind this grant and in working with our partners—an openness to see what we can learn from each other and a curiosity about what we can do together that we couldn't have done on our own.

What led KQED News to participate?
We're the only radio station to participate so far, and we're also the only nonprofit, so it's a great opportunity to bring a different experience and background to the project. There are so many people doing good, interesting, enterprising work in the Bay Area. It's really exciting! And so far, our partners, even though they're all online, have been very open to—even excited about—trying out radio.

Who are KQED's partner, and what do they cover?
Oakland Local is mix of a news site and a community organization. On top of original reporting by its staff and by freelancers, there are columns written by locals, daily photos, and a calendar of community events.

The three reporters at Berkeleyside are breaking stories in Berkeley. They're on the ground there, doing enterprising reporting and investigative work.

Janice Rombeck runs NeighborWebSJ. Janice was a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, covering city hall from the perspective of San Jose communities. She's kept up that beat now as an independent publisher. She's been a great resource for us, covering the budget and pension battles going on in San Jose, always with the perspective of "what does this mean for the people who live here?"

San Francisco Public Press is a nonprofit, public interest news website with quarterly print newspaper. Its reporters have done stories on transportation funding, city finance, green business, and development. They also have experience in partnering with other outlets, and will be a great resource for us as we develop our program.

Muni Diaries collects stories from Muni riders and publishes them online. Some of my favorites include a bus driver who threw a party on her bus to thank the riders, and a married couple who met on a bus. The editors say one of their goals is to document life in San Francisco. And in case you don't use Muni much, they also have Twitter feeds for BART Diaries and Caltrain Diaries.

How were these partners chosen?
These are our initial start-up partners. We approached them because they do serious reporting, they were eager to experiment with us, and they're in places where we don't necessarily have a lot of reporting resources right now.

We have a few more partners getting ready to start with us, and as the project grows, I'm looking forward to getting the word out so we can work with as many partners as are interested. If anyone has a favorite blog in his or her neighborhood or is a fan of an independent news site that covers a particular topic, I would love to hear about it! I'd like to reach out to and collaborate with as many sites as possible. Seriously, email me: msamuel@kqed.org.

How will a visitor to KQEDnews.org benefit from the project?
Just because we can't send a reporter to a story doesn't mean it's a story that shouldn't be told, and so this gives a broader platform to those stories. Maybe you live in Menlo Park and wouldn't normally read Berkleyside, but a story they're reporting might resonate in your community.

We're also planning events and trainings, so partners can meet each other and expand their skill sets. We hope this means our partners can do even more effective reporting in their communities and be able to sustain themselves, despite a tough economy and limited resources. More and better journalism can only be a good thing, I think. Not just for KQED News listeners and readers, but for the Bay Area in general.

Where are posts from our partners found?
KQED partners' posts will appear in the four photo boxes across the middle of KQEDnews.org. That's where KQED's blog posts go as they're published, and our partners will be integrated into that system. Their articles will also be accessible through the Bay Area News tab: kqed.org/news/bayarea.

 

 

Photo: Amy Gahran reports on a taco truck tour for Oakland Local.
Credit: George Kelly

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