Create or Die in Detroit, June 3-6, 2010


More photos or video tagged with jtmdetroit on Flickr

Other links:

Assignment Detroit from Hanson Hosein on Vimeo.






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Project Awards Announcement

On the last day of the June 3-6 Journalism That Matters event in Detroit –  – we hosted a half-day session for pitching projects.

To further the experiment, thanks to the generosity of Time Inc.’s Assignment Detroit and the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, the JTM-Create or Die organizers invited participants to submit proposals for seed funding. We are pleased to announce the outcomes.

Our criteria:

  • Initiatives experimenting with innovations in news and information by and/or for diverse communities
  • Experiments that don’t tend to receive traditional foundation funding
  • Proposers who attended the Detroit conference

Five teams made requests.  In the spirit of helping many flowers bloom, we have provided all of them with some support.
The Recipients:

The Living Textbook helps seventh grade, primarily Arab American students to tell their stories.  Its focus on young, diverse story-tellers met our criteria well.
Principals: Emilia Askari and Joe Grimm
Award:  $500 and attendance for two at the RJI Innovation Workshop

Operation Promise: College Connection will provide an interactive, multi-media search for Michigan colleges, universities and trade schools which qualify for the Kalamazoo Promise Funding.  It experiments with crowd-sourcing and user generated content.
Principal: Sonya Bernard-Hollins
Award: $1,000 and attendance at the RJI Innovation Workshop

Front uses the Internet to enable community to take greater responsibility for their own information.  It experiments with TV on the web, working with Black, Arab, Latino, and White communities.
Principal: Tim Moore
Award: $1,000

The Michigan News – is a non-partisan source for issues of public interest, especially investigative reporting that performs a watchdog and accountability role.  It approaches a traditional journalistic role in a new way, with a stated intention to share tools, equipment, and their platform with voices in the African-American, Latino, Muslim, and Caucasian communities.
Principal: Steve Wilson
Award: $500 and attendance at the RJI Innovation Workshop

Red Ink – provides public, socially driven and open source software for understanding consumer spending patterns. It experiments with visualization and public accessibility to aggregate data to support economic understanding and better quality social action.
Principal: Ryan O’Toole
Award: Attendance at the RJI Innovation Workshop

Additionally, mentoring support will be provided to project teams.   We’ll be tracking project progress over the next year.  So stay tuned.

Congratulations to all our requestors,
The Selection Team
Michelle Ferrier, Peggy Holman, Linda Jue, and Stephen Silha

P.S. A project that was pitched on Sunday that is actively underway is Reinventing Assignment Detroit.  Here’s an update from Juanita Anderson:

Steve [Koepp of Time Inc.’s Assignment Detroit] expressed preliminary interest in gifting the brand equity of Assignment Detroit to a sustaining multiplatform initiative, and indicated potential interest in seed funding for the project and providing funding for the initiative’s training component. We anticipate submitting a full proposal to Time, Inc. by the end of July.  We had a substantive dialogue with Steve about the house itself. While we did not rule out the possibility of requesting the house, we did suggest, given Detroit’s housing crisis and the zoning issues of the neighborhood, that the community might better be served by Time donating the house to an organization that could insure that it could be turned into a home for a family that needed a place to live.

Our primary efforts to date have been engaging in networking about the project, and gaining insights about viable organizational structure, site management and financial sustainability. Kwan Booth has been particularly helpful in providing insights in this regard. Alicia Buggs represented the initiative at the Allied Media Conference and I am at the U.S. Social Forum this week.  In the spirit of the initiative’s goal of training future journalists and storytellers, eight student filmmakers are working this week with Free Speech TV, producing short Detroit stories for inclusion in Free Speech’s streaming coverage of the U.S. Social Forum. (It should be noted that Eric Galatis made a commitment at the JTM conference that Free Speech TV would be an outlet for the initiative’s Detroit Stories.)  Our next steps include, establishing an initial web presence, galvanizing support and participation from grassroots organizations, solidifying the organizational structure and filing for incorporation, and developing our business plan.

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How Do I Create A Business Plan

Submitted by andrewhumphrey1 on Mon, 06/14/2010 – 11:58am.

The attendees were Helen Fu, Betsy Spratt, and Daniel Wallace.

Helen expressed her legal background, and Andrew asked here what the legal side of starting a business entailed.  Helen responded by stating the use of counsel to create or to review bylaws, privacy statements, releases, etc.  Attorneys can also provide advice on how to set up LLC’s or equivalent entities to protect individual entrepreneurs personally.

Betsy mentioned the entrepreneurship program/course she is taking.  It is at Wayne State University and is called FastTrac.

Daniel said he had experience in the communications department of Chrysler Financial Services.  He witnessed the funding of start-ups first hand, but wanted to learn more.

Finally, all of us joined the “Incubating a Start-Up” conversation (Session B).

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What Process & Criteria Shall JTM use to give $4000 and Attendance to an Innovation Event or RJI?

Session Convenors: Linda Jue & Peggy Holman

Session Reporter: Peggy

Discussion Participants:

Linda Jue, Peggy Holman, Betsy Spratt (for part of the session)

Saturday – St. Andrews G – Lunch

We talked through a set of criteria and process.  Here’s what was ultimately sent to participants:

Dear Friends,

Thanks for being part of making JTM-Create or Die such an outstanding event!  We are truly excited by the innovations seeded at JTM and hope that each and every idea grows beyond the gathering in Detroit.

As promised, here is information on the criteria and process for sending a proposal to:

1.       Receive some of the $4,000 provided by Time, Inc. and

2.       Receive up to $500 to cover expenses to attend the Innovation Workshop at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) in Missouri on August 16 and 17, 2010.  (We expect the $500 to be sufficient to cover all of your travel, lodging, and conference-related costs. RJI has provided funding for 3 people to attend.)

Anyone who attended JTM-Create or Die is welcome to submit a proposal.

Prepare no more than a 2-page proposal and a budget that responds to the attached outline. Send the proposal and budget to jtm [at] journalismthatmatters [dot] org by June 21.

The conference organizers (see list below) will use your responses to the attached outline as a basis for making awards.

Our intent is to support as many projects as possible.  We considered setting specific amounts (e.g., 2 proposals each receive $2,000 or 4 proposals each receive $1,000).  We also discussed matching money to need.  Ultimately, given the amount of money available, we decided that the primary benefit of the award is the psychological boost it provides.  We felt that we best serve you by creating conditions in which “1,000 blossoms” take root.

Submission deadline:         E-mailed by midnight, June 21, 2010
Notification of decision:    June 24, 2010

(Note: Those selected to attend the RJI Innovation Workshop must complete travel arrangements with RJI staff by June 30.  Contact is Roger Gafke at gafker [at], phone: 573 881 5446.)

The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) is holding a training and pitch session for innovators in conjunction with the sponsors of the global Innovate100 competition, a global competition to select the 100 most innovative companies in the world.  This session is aimed at university students; however, RJI is inviting others to join the session and pitch their ideas.  The winning presenters will have an expense-paid trip to pitch at the global finals later this year.

The first morning will be a training session presented by the international team. The afternoon will be the pitch session to a national panel of investors.  The following morning will describe the resources available in central Missouri to help local innovators.  More details are in the attached workshop description.


Provide two brief project updates.  The first update is due by the end of 2010.  The second is due in approximately one year (in time for JTM-Create or Die in North Carolina in 2011).

Shared learning.  In the spirit of supporting others in learning from your experience, your proposal and updates will be posted on the JTM web site.

Work with a mentor throughout the year.  Based on an idea that emerged out of JTM-Detroit, we will work with you to match you to one or more mentors.

Even if you do not receive money or a trip to RJI, you are welcome to request a mentor.

Please contact us at jtm [at] or call Peggy Holman at 425.746.6274 or Michelle Ferrier at 386.366.4037.

In the spirit of learning as we go, we want your help.  By making a proposal, you are part of an experiment for Journalism That Matters.  This is our first experience in giving away money.  Please support us in learning how to support you with your feedback and thoughts on our process and materials.

Many thanks,
The Conference Organizers
Bill Densmore
Michelle Ferrier
Peggy Holman
Andrew Humphrey
Linda Jue
Alicia Nails
Harold Shinsato
Stephen Silha
MaryAnn Chick Whiteside

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Connecting Mentors or Peer-to-Peer Coaching

Session Convenor:

Lori Robinson

Session Reporter:

Lori Robinson

Discussion Participants:

Roger Gafke –, Cambrey Thomas –, Desiree Cooper –, Alicia Buggs –,
Michael Price –, Dori J. Maynard –, Kwan Booth –, Tim Moore –, Linda Jue –, Lori Robinson –

Saturday – St Andrews E – 10:30

Roger spoke of the Seattle JTM in January. Said there has been an integration of a half dozen community organizations and media. Recommended establishing a JTM discussion group. Recommended using the local planning committee as a resource to connect people with others who can support and provide support in necessary areas. Also mentioned the journalism institute—a social network for journalism entrepreneurs. Said 60 percent of participants are hyper-local media makers

Lori and Desiree mentioned needing help understanding how to more effectively use Twitter.

Cambrey, who is on her way to Columbia University’s J-school and has launched the Girls About DTown blog, recommended doing Tweet-ups to help people who need to learn more about Twitter.

Someone (I think Desiree) suggested using the online matchmaking platforms as a basis for creating a matchmaking site for journalism entrepreneurs and media makers seeking mentors or wanting to share expertise. (Roger seemed very interested in this idea.)

Someone suggested CityConnect Detroit to help connect grassroots community to funders.

Alicia mentioned needing a mentor regarding leadership in general. She has a new job in city government.

Michael mentioned that his wife is an IT person, but that he still wants to learn more about safety and privacy issues when it comes to social networking.

Kwan suggested several resources: moodl for online classroom training, wiredjournalist which is like a delicious for journalists, and digitalcrossroads, a google group that provides resource info.

Kwan said he is working on a new free project that will be up in about a month called

Someone (I think Dori) mentioned using the UNITY journalism of color organizations for connecting with mentors/mentees. She mentioned jackandjillpolitics as a model site to check out. She recommended some guidelines regarding establishing successful mentor-mentee relationships:

Be very specific about what you want and need. For example, how often do you want to talk? What do you want to talk about? What can you provide? How much time are you willing to give? Setting clear expectations on both sides will help ensure a positive, fruitful experience for both parties.

Desiree suggested creating a model that is being used in the community development world called Time Banking. A database is created and people input what they are willing to provide/share/help with and how many hours they are willing to give. Then people can trade or barter services based on equal amounts of time. A resource to check out is Alliance for Time Banks.

Tim mentioned needing guidance about how to make his online TV news site more interactive.

Someone mentioned the Foundation Center as a resource for nonprofits.

Someone (I think Linda) mentioned the Tides Center in San Francisco and New York as a resource for nonprofit projects. You go in as a fiscally sponsored project. Tides is especially interested in racial justice projects.

Someone mentioned the Matrix Foundation as a resource.

After the Session

I decided to collect names and contact info for people in need of mentors and people willing to mentor. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to everyone. But here is the info I was about to collect:





Cambrey Thomas, 313.401.7188

Twitter & blogging

Melissa Cornick

Mc3325 [at] columbia [dot] edu

Best practices & ethics

Annie Shreffler

annieshreff [at] gmail [dot] com

Online/social media reporting

Lou Rutigliano

augatel [at] yahoo [dot] com

Web engineering & media technology

Ryan O’Toole

rotoole [at] gmail [dot] com

Web engineering & media technology

Latoya Peterson

Latoya [at] racialicious [dot] com

Community building/media outreach/games

Christina Xu

Christina [dot] k [dot] xu [at] gmail [dot] com

Games/tech/internet & how to use them

Andrea Silenti

andreasilenti [at] gmail [dot] com

Multimedia producing tips for freelancers

Michelle Ferrier

michelle [at] michelleferrier [dot] com

Interactive media/hyperlocal startups/journalism/writing

Kwan Booth

kwan [at] oaklandlocal [dot] com

Social media/media startup tips/ community management/business consultant





Annie Shreffler

annieshreff [at] gmail [dot] com

Beat reporting

Michelle Ferrier

michelle [at] michelleferrier [dot] com


Lori Robinson

LoriSasai [at] gmail [dot] com

Monetizing an online publication, internet ad sales, new media startup guidance

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How we get sources to answer our phone calls as solo website journalists

Session Convenor:

Kadidjri Lahab

Discussion Participants:

Kadidjri Lahab, Matt Renner

In no particular order here were the suggestions:

1. Explain clearly, concisely with confidence why your writing the article
and give a brief description of the online magazine website
for which you are writing.

2. Use a cell provider, Skype, or other telecommunications companies
that provide the option to have various area codes. If the interviewer
see’s a familiar area code they’re more likely to pick-up or return
the call.

3. People are interested in giving stories concerning where they live.

4. If at all possible take the three pronged approach.
a. Request an interview in person.
b. Call the potential interviewee. If no response then call them again.
Sometimes you have to be aggressive and ask them why they haven’t
returned your phone calls.
c. Email are an option too. But keep in mind that they can be ignored
or even go to receivers spam box.

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Media’s Role in Civic or Political Engagement + Dialogue

Session Convenor: Brian Connors

Discussion Participants:  Brian Connors, ++

Friday – St. Andrews A -3:00pm

Combined with:

Giving Public Policy Coverage a more human face


How do we create Journalism that serves the community, spurs public action, policy change, & community interaction?

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Giving Public Policy a more human face

Session Convenor:
Cheryl Fields, Kwan Booth, and Brian Connors

Discussion Participants:

Cheryl Fields, Kwan Booth, Brian Connors, ++

Combined with:

How do we create Journalism that serves the community, spurs public action, policy change & community interaction?


Media’s role in civic or political engagement & dialogue

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Collegiate press corps

Session Convenor:

Sue Ellen Christian, Western Michigan University; Joe Grimm, Michigan State University

Session Reporter:

Joe Grimm

Discussion Participants:

Sonya Bernard-Hollins, editor, Community Voices, Kalamazoo, Mich.; Jeff Brown, All Headline News, Wellington, Fla.; Eugene Daniel III, student, Elon University, Marietta GA; Marin Heinritz, faculty, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, Mich.; John Kotarski, Ann Arbor; Helen Fu, Citizen Media Law Project, Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University; Alicia Nails, director, Journalism Institute for Media Diversity, Wayne State University; Marquis Herring, Wayne State University, 2010; Daniel Wallace, diversity and community relations intern at Daimler Financial Services, recently multimedia journalist with Rochester Democrat & Chronicle; Ruth Seymour, assistant professor, Oakland University; Geoff Samek, Sacramento Press, Sacramento, Calif.; Andrew Humphrey, reporter, WDIV-TV

The organizers recruited participants who teach journalism at Michigan colleges and universities, as well as the technologists, business and legal people who can help make it happen.

The idea in one sentence is that student-produced journalism could fill gaps left by the loss of local, professional news staffs with reports published online.

We quickly concluded that there is not enough coverage by college and universities to reach all communities, so this can not be a continuous, wall-to-wall network.

The journalism will need to meet a higher bar than the mere submission of content. Sacramento Press has, in the past, used extensive peer editing effectively, letting a professional editor give the final word on more content. They have used as many as three rounds of peer edits with free software such as Google Docs. Final call on some suggested edits went to the writers. Professors noted that this might present some challenges for grading — or opportunities to grade students on both writing and edits.

Content includes writing, audio, video, photos, graphics and maps, in keeping with what J-schools should b teaching and with all the ways people like to receive news.

Samek said the project could be a good way to close the “town and gown” dichotomy in some communities. (Grimm said he should add a community meeting for students to his fall semester in public affairs reporting.)

Close monitoring of website metrics would make teaching more relevant to real-world experiences. Should it factor into grades? Potential trouble if popularity surpasses academic evaluation.

Students prefer to write about the subjects that are of greater interest to them: the arts, entertainment and sports. And we have noticed that local meetings are lightly attended.

Ruth Seymour said she would like to student writing include the service-learning components now familiar on some college campuses. She sees it as an entry point into communities. We talked some about the role of community journalism in this project.

We talked about incorporating some game mechanics into college journalism. That could include different levels that the journalists can achieve and points for doing certain things.

We talked about the Creative Commons rights that can be claimed by content creators. We noted that minors can’t currently license content with a parent. Helen Fu said after the session that the Berkman Center is willing to work with us on legal issues.

It was suggested that the community should have access to the site and be able to add content to it, turning it into a true community forum. A calendar that the community can populate would be a good feature. This dimension turns it from a solely school project into a forum that may enjoy some greater legal protection.

Jeff Brown said that All Headline News, which began as an aggregator and moved into providing some original content, is interested in setting up relationships with college in which the instructors determine what can go on the wire. All Headline News would provide the infrastructure and return some money in the form of micro-payments for stories that attract audience.

We plan to keep in touch after the JTM-Detroit conference in part to support each other and share idea and to perhaps link together hyperlocal news sites created by college J-students in service to communities that are losing local news coverage.

Joe Grimm
Visiting editor in residence
School of Journalism
Michigan State University

“Ask the Recruiter” at

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Cultivating a healthy commercial ecosystem

Submitted by gsamek on Wed, 06/09/2010 – 1:31pm

Session Convenor:

Geoff Samek

Session Reporter:

Geoff Samek

Discussion Participants:

Helen Fu, Jeffrey Jones, Kaarli Tasso, Travis Mitchell, Eugene Daniel III, Andrew Humphrey, Eric Galatas, (Two others only left email addresses)

What’s good about commenting on Websites?

  • One participant noted that it can increase attendance to a venue and used a museum as an example
  • Gives a sense of empowerment to the users
  • Like many letters to the editor at the same time
  • Can help you find like minded people
  • Can also expose you to disparate opinions
  • Reading the comments can help give you a sense of an article before you read it
  • Can increase traffic
    • Example was given of a site who removed commenting and then site traffic took a nosedive

What makes a good comment system?

  • Notifications for replies to comments
  • Article’s author helps moderate conversation

What are the problems with current comment systems? (Solutions if talked about found below each problem)

  • Bullying online can drive people to be depressed
    • Take an off-ramp from a conversation thread, allow one-on-one conversations
    • Moderate comments from a live chat
  • Older people accessing comment systems is tough
  • Permanence of comments is scary
  • Don’t want to blog because afraid of commenters
  • Not understanding what your privacy rights are
  • Dominating personalities can silence voices
    • If you are a facilitator, actually ask more people to chime in
    • Education
    • Problem is intimidation, perhaps let a person know that they can contribute
    • Post in another forum, or another reporter
  • Misinformed rants show what people are truly thinking
    • Bring order to the conversation
    • Vote to ask for more
    • Using a message board to help shape your opinion on issues
    • Showing people how they arrived at that conclusion
  • Feedback on ads
    • Comments on ads
  • Vulgar comments
    • Limit comments, then push them out of the conversation
    • Huge dose of positivity from commenters (fire extinguishers)
    • Communities regulate their community behaviors, self-policing, that is real life reflection
    • Facebook allows you to you report comments that are bad
  • Putting up personal information
  • Woman accused of molesting little girls, small town story became really big

If all else fails, when should we ban users from commenting, how should we handle banning?

  • After banning, keep in touch with people
  • Freedom of the press not true, being on a given website is not a right
  • Suspend not ban
  • Comment probation
  • Trial of your peers

Other thoughts?

  • Every article should have comments, even if it’s a tough article
  • Have to involve the community in everything


  • Great book on managing communities
  • Another book referenced by a session participant
  • Stats on online participation by demographic
  • widget that shows your political leaning
  • I have the full audio of the session, however I have yet to figure out how to get it online.
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