Neighborhood News Bureaus and Community Media Centers
A Work in Progress Filling the Void in Hyper-Local Journalism
Every community is different. You understand yours better than most. Act on this
information and your network of local resources and contacts.
One size never fits all. Take the lessons from elsewhere and bend them to fit your needs
The media “silos” are crumbling. Newspapers have ignored you in the past. Forget their
previous slights and call on them again. The situation has radically changed.
The community media process provides an opportunity to be the “new best friend” to
local print media. WE have what they need.
Newspapers now compete with Commercial Television station web sites and video is
king. This is very difficult for newspaper people to accept. Help them.
Many newspaper people blame “The Internet”, distain “electronic journalists” only
slightly less than “citizen journalists” but are clueless about how to proceed.
Newspapers are scrambling to add video to their web sites at a time when bankruptcy
looms for most of them. They want free video.
Two “voids” are being created by the collapse of newspapers: Investigative Journalism
and Grass Roots Local Coverage
o Professional career journalists pursuing challenging investigations and serving as
democracy’s “public watchdog”. Where will their salaries come from as
newspaper advertising erodes?
o Grassroots coverage of community events, people, and important issues at the
“hyper-local”, neighborhood or community level.
Community Media needs greater exposure and legitimacy in the local political world.
Community media provides training and facility support open to the public.
We have vast experience serving traditionally underserved communities and have earned
a degree of trust. Print journalists don’t enjoy this trust.
Our “daily grind” is the continuous creation of unique local video. The new challenge is
“re-purposing” this video for ever-changing delivery systems.
Community Media Centers constantly experiment with video distribution on a variety of
evolving media platforms. This “institutional adaptability” is a true asset.
If you see a similar need/opportunity in your community for more local news coverage,
now is the time to act before another organization fills the void and you are scrambling to
demonstrate relevancy in a rapidly changing media environment.
Access Sacramento Community Media – “Sights & Sounds”
“Neighborhood News Bureaus” Project Description
Based (in part) upon Knight Foundation Proposal submitted by Grand Rapids (Michigan) Community
Media Center – Laurie Cirivello, Executive Director (with permission of the author)
By establishing accessible, equipped and supported neighborhood news bureaus, the Sacramento regional
communities will benefit from a more thorough and authentic local information resource. This will be
accomplished through leveraging existing resources, and coordinating strategic partnerships in our
community that together will create and launch frameworks to encourage and support resident created
journalism at the neighborhood level. The project proposal contains both physical spaces and web-based
applications for use by neighborhoods and the community at-large, while also providing accessible
resources for use by traditional local media. Elements of the project include:
1. Establish “Community Media” Blog in partnership with www.SacBee.com
First articles written by Access Sacramento staff mid-March, 2009.
Daily updates are added and placed on “our Region” section of on-line newspaper
with 20,000 estimated daily views.
Additional “bloggers” will be added to column as warranted.
Use readership to expand outreach and participation by regional readers.
2 Expand current Access Sacramento video and audio production workshops to
include new workshop entitled – “How to Become a Community Media
Workshop would be taught by Access Sacramento staff and local experts and
teach skills in the following areas:
o Researching “neighborhood stories”, finding “sources, accuracy of
o Writing a neighborhood news story, journalistic style, ethics, follow-up,
o Shooting news digital stills, video, and audio
o Posting stories and images to www.SacIndyMedia.org and
o Distribute neighborhood news stories to readily available platforms:
All written stories posted to either www.SacIndyMedia.org or www.SacPress.com
Alert www.IndyBay.org and www.SacPress.com editors to move ”best stories” to
center column with “tags” available for Google search engines
Access Sacramento will regularly re-package a selection of neighborhood news
stories for presentation on community radio “The Voice of Sacramento” and cable
television Channel 17, “The Sacramento Channel” in a new program “Community
Media – “Sights & Sounds”.
Construct and facilitate “live” news desk at Access Sacramento. Using an existing
edit bay, purchase and install television studio equipment and lighting for “live”
updates from contributing correspondents. The correspondents could be professional
journalists, neighborhood leaders, NPO agency executive directors, and others.
Emphasis will be upon either immediate local news updates combined with on-going
reporting on NPO agency activities and special “live-call-in” events with guests.
Equipment will permit “live” programming with a crew of one plus talent and guests.
Add reliable and skilled reporters from trainees and other professional independent
journalists to Access Sacramento’s SacBee “Community Media” blog and news desk.
Establish Community Media News Hub, operated by www.SacBee.com and
www.AccessSacramento.org to aggregate content from neighborhood reporters into a
community web-based news-feed. (Relevancy/importance determined by Digg or
other user rating application).
3. Community-wide and World-wide distribution of content via web sites and
Community Newsfeed Widget application will be provided to 100+ existing regional
websites to connect community to the news emanating from the Hub. Regional web
site recruited by Sacramento Regional Community Foundation, Community Resource
Planning Council, and the Nonprofit Resource Center.
Access Sacramento streams all programming on “The Voice” community radio and
Channel 17 “The Sacramento Channel” to the web site www.AccessSacramento.org
for world-wide viewing and listening. This will further broaden distribution and
increase awareness of the project and opportunities for resident participation.
Use other innovations for wide distribution of community news as the stories are
developed and new technologies evolve.
4. Seek Foundation Grants and Establish Long-term Outreach to Sacramento
Neighborhood Associations and Incorporated Cities in Sacramento County
Establish a Community Media Neighborhood News Bureau in cooperation with each
neighborhood association and city.
Each bureau will physically reside in a known neighborhood gathering location
(libraries/community centers, etc.). Each site will be outfitted with video and still
cameras, computers, audio recorders and templates / connectivity required to “file”
stories to the web. Additional production equipment and facilities are available for
resident use through the Access Sacramento Community Media Center 4623 T Street
and additional training sites to be determined.
Each bureau will be initially “staffed” with a team combining journalism students
and 2-3 local resident volunteers. Participants will be recruited through local colleges
and existing neighborhood organizations and libraries. As projects grow, each will be
encouraged to develop its own leadership/advisory group.
Regular training will be offered to bureau participants, as well as other interested
residents. Technical training will be augmented with workshops on specialized topics
in journalism (Business reporting, ethics, children’s issues, environmental reporting,
law, etc.). Workshops will utilize Access Sacramento staff, along with current and
retired experts in the field as trainers.
Technical and operational support will be provided by Access Sacramento and
Sacramento Bee production staff with assistance from host site personnel.
The search for initial grant funding will be a joint effort with the help of Dave
Walker and Lois Hart, retired KCRA Channel 3 news anchors. Initial thoughts are
hard hitting, investigative journalism by inviting the participation of other local
independent journalists. Grant funds raised will cover expenses and offer a
professional stipend to participating journalists similar to the web site
www.voiceofsandiego.com. This professional team will also assist in training
5. Creation of a web-based community news framework.
Each bureau will be provided with a neighborhood news web site, created
specifically for this project. Neighborhood news will be uploaded onto the site.
Each neighborhood news site will have the ability to expand and personalized their
site, add interactive features and expand functions while maintaining a core set of
common services and practices.
A Community News Hub, operated by the Sacramento Bee and Access Sacramento,
will aggregate content from neighborhood sites into a community web-based news-
feed. (Relevancy/importance determined by Digg or other user rating application).
6. Establish news resource library for use by professional journalists.
Each local news bureau will collect and maintain a database/collection of current
neighborhood information (contacts, demographics, stock footage, photos) for project
The resource libraries will be made available to local news outlets encouraging more
complete/accurate neighborhood coverage when stories arise.
These archives and human resources at the hyper-local level will facilitate improved
and more efficient news coverage by professional journalists.
Access Sacramento, a 501c3 nonprofit corporation and SacBee.com shall provide the leadership required
to establish a dynamic community collaborative, identifying and expanding existing scalable services to
other communities throughout the region, and demonstrating the importance and value of neighborhood
centered, community-wide communications. Committed partners, collaborators, and advisors to date
Project Lead /Training/ Outreach/ Web Services/Radio & TV distribution
Blog Site Project Management/Technical Services & Support/Training/Hub Management
Sacramento Metropolitan Cable Television Commission
Financial support for Access Sacramento cable related projects
Video Streaming Services Company
Internet Streaming of Channel 17 and “The Voice”/Techniical Services and Support
SacIndyMedia.org, IndyBay.org. and SacPress.com
Initial posting site for news stories
Sacramento Media Group and California Common Cause
Project Promotion/Outreach to Local Media Outlets
Sacramento Regional Community Foundation
Project Promotion/Search for Regional Funding
Nonprofit Resource Center and Community Services Planning Council
Project Promotion/Search for Regional Funding
Sacramento State University and Los Rios Community Colleges
Evaluation/Student Recruitment Assistance
Specialized Journalism advisors to be identified including Dave Walker and Lois Hart.
Yet to be determined funding agencies including private and public foundations, corporations,
and other revenue generating ventures.
This project provides a framework and the support to establish a strong culture of independent
professional journalism combined with trained community correspondents in and for the City and County
of Sacramento. Expansion of physical locations, user-friendly applications and technology and ongoing
training will support continued growth and increasing autonomy of each neighborhood bureau. In addition
to web structures, access to production equipment and ongoing training, future grant funding for the
project will permit a modest stipend for use by neighborhood bureaus as they ramp up capacity and for
compensating professional independent journalists for their contributions. As the sites develop,
workshops and support in development and underwriting methods will be provided. Also, after the
framework is established and functioning, the bureaus are intended to be the “home” for separately
fundable, specialized journalism projects such as youth media teams and ethnic news-gathering projects.
Automated aggregation / widget applications will ensure continued web distribution at minimal cost.
Further the expanded project places the bureaus in existing neighborhood host locations with
complementary and supportive missions, increasing likelihood of continued support.
Finally, through existing regular funding from SMCTC and other sources, Access Sacramento, together
with the Sacramento Bee and other named organizations will continue to provide supplemental
production equipment, training, and advise to neighborhood bureaus and their numerous trained and
empowered community correspondents and reporters.
Full realization of the above plan will culminate in the establishment of a revenue generating, for profit
web site called Access Sacramento Information Services Online Television or
Access Sacramento Information Services
AsIsOnline.tv and AsIsTV.org
As-Is Online Television is an Internet based project organized for the
financial benefit of the Sacramento Community Cable Foundation,
d.b.a. Access Sacramento -- a California 501c3 corporation. This is a
brief description of the “look” of the site and positioning on the
Internet. The final business model and any potential fiscal and/or
content partnerships, are being explored.
Access Sacramento shall gather community information and news in many
electronic forms and host on the web site AsIsOnline.tv
AsIsOnline.tv shall be a revenue generating web site designed and
marketed to advertisers and other businesses as a new media platform
and revenue source for the nonprofit, Access Sacramento. Additional
business partners, determined to be critical to the success of the site by
the Access Sacramento Board of Directors, shall be added as needed.
AsIsOnline.tv shall be designed to display information from a variety of
sources including but not limited to:
video (streamed and on-demand)
audio pod casts
community radio “The Voice”
interactive local community generated news
local, national, and international news of the day from other sites
links to other trusted sources of on-line information
use evolving state-of-the-art social networking distribution and data
aggregation technologies to target and maintain the position of “THE” trusted
source of local and relevant international information for Sacramento County
The site shall focus upon local content interesting to the varied
geographic, cultural, and age specific communities located within
The “look” and content design of the site shall combine the best use of
social network technologies (Obama.com), edgy use of graphic design and
video content (Current.com), and news article, graphs, bloggers and video
aggregation qualities of Andrew Sullivan’s “Daily Dish”
Imagine if famous (now deceased) S.F. Chronicle columnist and
“Sacratomato” native son Herb Caen had the Internet to gather his news
bits. What would he have used to create his daily “column” telling the
many “stories” of Sacramento? He would have gathered on-line news
items and other content from a variety of web sites and gossipy local
bloggers. He would then organize these thoughts and provide his own
special spin, creating an entertaining mix of “three dot…” journalism. Such
a site would be the “go-to-must-have” application, or “app”, on all
Sacramento cell phones. We want www.AsIsOnline.tv to have this type of
appeal for young and old Sacramentans.
Each “ideal” web site example has a strong editorial “hand”, making
choices about what content is “fresh”, valued and relevant to the
reader/viewer. Our As-Is-TV goal would be a rich, layered, “snapshot” of
local current issues and people.
The web site must earn and maintain the “trust” of the viewer/reader as a
reliable source of information pertaining to our County from a wide variety
of perspectives and viewpoints. If you wanted “one trusted source” to
bookmark for a reliable view on news of local interest, it would be
A commissioned sales team shall be organized to contact the business
community and invite traditional advertising and newer forms of
interactive media revenue generation.
Local “classified ads” will be a feature of the web site. Provided free, for
most ads, this service will echo the success of Craig’s List and be offered
as a public service generating ongoing traffic to the site.
Content providers on the site shall not be financially compensated unless
otherwise specified in writing by Access Sacramento.
Any Access Sacramento video used on the site, AsIsOnline.tv, created
through the resources underwritten by the Sacramento Metropolitan Cable
Television Commission, shall be transmitted on cable channels 17 and 18
per all noncommercial guidelines currently in place.
Existing Access Sacramento radio and television volunteer programmers
shall be invited to produce short (ten minutes or less) versions of their
program episodes. These episodes shall be offered as individual “pods”
(current.tv terminology) on the AsIs.tv web site. Informational tags will
direct viewers/listeners to the cable channels and web site for
viewing/listening of complete episodes.
Ron Cooper, Executive Director
4623 T Street
Sacramento, CA. 95819
(916) 456-8600 #112