An Update from ELi

Thursday, June 29, 2017, 10:44 am
Alice Dreger, Publisher

Photo: Alice speaking on the First Amendment with student-activists at The FIRE student networking conference in Philadelphia last July.

Barring local disasters, ELi will be on a summer break through Monday, July 10. Before we go quiet, I’d like to share with you some updates and also, again, my gratitude for your support of the ELi citizen-reporting team.

In fact, let me start with my gratitude, because it is your support that makes me confident that if East Lansing does face a significant challenge—a big storm; a major power outage; a boil-water emergency—we’ll have a way to share information. You might not guess it, but Managing Editor Ann Nichols and I talk sometimes about emergency preparedness at ELi, for example, what we will do if (heaven forbid) there is a major shooting in our community.

We always hope things will be like they feel right now, where the tension that does exist locally is political, but we know we can’t guess what our community will face, and we take very seriously being ready for whatever you may need. We know we may screw things up sometimes, but we work every day on trying to do the highest quality of journalism in the service of this community.

There’s so much going on right now in city government and in our public schools that we are going to be opening a formal search for additional reporters in those two areas. (We would also love reporters for Crime and Sports, by the way!) When we come back from break, we’ll have job notices posted that will be going out through our various channels, but please do consider now whether you or someone you know might be able and willing to take on some of that reporting with us.

Not only can citizen-reporters be paid on our usual scale if they wish (today, most of our reporters are paid, and that’s fine!), our reporters benefit from becoming more connected, they serve the community by providing additional news and, in many cases, provide additional layers of review pre-publication. Every single-authored article at ELi is really the product of team-work, as we read each other’s drafts and provide suggestions and additional information.

The more people we have working on this project together, the better off our community is. More eyes and ears and more typing fingers means more checks and balances in our reporting on our democracy. We now have sources all over this city and beyond its borders, and that means we need more and more help on the reporting side.

Speaking of more participants in the community service project that is ELi, as you may have read, our Board of Directors has expanded with the addition of Merem Frierson. Merem joined us at our last ELi Open Office Hours at Black Cat Bistro, the third event in this community dialogue series. We are delighted to have her working with us at the Board level.

Finally, I’m happy to report that our Summer Youth Journalism Program is set to go in August. We have eight fine participants ready to work with Cody Harrell for two weeks of intensive education and practice in local journalism. The eight include four young women and four young men, aged fourteen through seventeen years of age, mostly but not exclusively students at East Lansing High School. We expect that several of them (or, ideally, all of them!) will go on to become regular reporters for ELi.

Thank you again for your support of this work. As always, I encourage you to be in touch with your questions, thoughts, ideas, and offers of service, including news tips. We can’t do this without you. And I don't think we have to explain to you how important it is to have a free and independent press, as imperfect as it inevitably will be.


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