Category Archives: Journalism 2.0

Last Day at The Blue Review

Four years ago, a small group at Boise State launched The Blue Review with a quote post from Walter Lippmann, attempting to explain our tagline — “Popular scholarship in the public interest.”

Lippmann wrote in his 1921 book, Public Opinion, that the primary defect of representative government is, “the failure of self-governing people to transcend their casual experience and their prejudice, by inventing, creating, and organizing a machinery of knowledge.”

Lippmann tasked journalists with at least organizing, or explaining, the knowledge that our society produced.  My job, as a journalist and founding editor of TBR, was to serve as a bridge between town and gown, to publish articles grounded in academic research but written for the general public on topics of local interest.

We wanted to transcend the trivial and dull, as Lippmann might have put it, in favor of “lively commentary, informed scholarship and critical conversation on politics, cities, the media and the environment,” as we put it.

It is because they are compelled to act without a reliable picture of the world, that governments, schools, newspapers and churches make such small headway against the more obvious failings of democracy, against violent prejudice, apathy, preference for the curious trivial as against the dull important, and the hunger for sideshows and three legged calves. — Lippmann, Public Opinion

And we did. Over the past four years, we published almost 400 articles from some 175 scholars and public intellectuals, garnering more than 2 million page views and curating special issues on elections, schooling, cities and race. It was fun, stimulating and fascinating to meet so many energetic and well-read professors at Boise State and beyond.

The Blue Review, Winter 2014
Winter 2014 “Racial Discrimination in Idaho” cover with “Skeletons” art from Bobby Gaytan.

We achieved a tone that I think Lippmann would have appreciated, but we also injected some of the democratic ideals of John Dewey into those pages, inviting writers from all walks of life to contribute, hosting public forums and debates and opening up the comment sections. This formula — a highly curated, well-crafted, transdisciplinary, town-gown blog — remains unique in higher ed, and I want to thank Boise State University and all the people who supported it over the years for providing such a forum.

This is my last week at the helm of The Blue Review and I’m eager to transition from editor to reader. Jill Gill and Justin Vaughn, who co-direct the Center for Idaho History and Politics, will become the publication’s new stewards. Justin and Jill have both written extensively for TBR and are committed to scholarship in the public interest and the type of community engagement we’ve cultivated these past four years.

I am moving on to a new chapter of my writing career, which I will announce next week — still crafting and organizing the “machinery of knowledge,” but in a different context and forum.

Here’s a few of my favorite TBR posts from the past few years:

There are many, many more, and I encourage you to explore the archives (hint: change year in URL), to add your voice to the comments and to keep an eye out for future TBR events.

Here’s to the next four years!

 

In this sense, the new rise of data journalism mirrors the age old spectrum of the news industry, from yellow to red. It matters little whether the bits or blobs are rendered in lampblack and gum arabic or 1s and 0s. What matters, what has always mattered, is the consciousness of the renderer, the corporate bounds within which he or she works and the attitude of the news consumer. Will data journalism progress along the lines of the corporate backed, market-driven Princeton Radio Project of the 1930s or will the new data journalists take heed of Adorno’s warnings against “stating and measuring effects without relating them to these ‘stimuli,’” the qualitative, objective influence of culture and society on consumers (Adorno, 1969, p. 343)?

From “Journalism’s New Proof Texts: The Peril and Promise of Data Storytelling,” a paper I wrote for Ed McLuskie’s Advanced Critical Theory class at Boise State, now posted for critique session at Academia.edu.

Rock Cairn, Mt. St. Helens

Elevator pitch for Knight #newschallenge on data and communities

I’ve been working on an idea for the Knight Foundation News Challenge on data and communities and wanted to share the evolution of our one line, elevator pitch for the project.

The proposal is to take the idea of a “data repository” (like data.gov, or the City of Boise’s growing data portal hosted by ESRI’s Open Data platform, which I’m also working on), that offers bulk data downloads of civic info, and add two more types of data to the catalog: research that actaully uses the data and media reporting on the data.

I call this “data in its context,” or “the work done on the data,” and I think it will be convenient to have it all in one place. Also, I think average citizens will be able to make better use of it, better interpret the numbers and contribute back to the research and reporting with their own local insights.

My first stab at explaining this was pretty high level and I still like it:

Draft 1

We’re organizing the web in Boise around community data, locally relevant research, government reports and the news in a structured way that scales to local internet spaces around the world.

But it did not speak to the power of communities harnessing their own data, which is the point.

Draft 2

We’re organizing the web in Boise, Idaho, around community data, relevant research, government reports, local journalism and public ideas in a structured way that scales to communities around the world.

Someone pointed out to me that its not the web that needs organizing, it’s the locally relevant data, thus:

Draft 3

We’re organizing community data alongside relevant research, government reports, local journalism and public ideas in Boise, Idaho with a web app that will scale to benefit communities around the world.

Then, how will it benefit these communities?

Draft 4

We’re marshalling community data alongside relevant university research, government reports, local journalism and public ideas in Boise, Idaho with an open source web app that communities across the world can use to tell their own data stories.

Finally after much work and input from many folks, including and intense “Red Team” (pdf) session at Boise State, I arrived at this draft:

Draft 5

Data Cairn is a platform for data storytelling, starting in Southwest Idaho, that allows communities to harness their data along with the work being done on it: relevant university research, government reports, local journalism, visualizations, public ideas and more, in order to discover and demand better solutions.

The feedback phase for the Knight News Challenge is open for one more day, so feel free to leave more feedback and applause, if warranted, on our proposal. There are tons of other cool projects on there as well. Well, 1,028 other cool projects …

Here’s a few I like:

What makes radio “independent”

Daniel Hill of Riverfront Times on independent media and the new KDHX Larry J. Weir Center for Independent Media in St. Louis’ Grand Center:

On the heels of that Kresge grant, the station received many additional donations in the $10,000 to $100,000-plus range. The rest of the money came in much smaller amounts.

These large donations could cause some to question the station’s prized status as an “independent” radio station. When KDHX received a quarter-million-dollar grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 2007, one of the first things the nonprofit did was bring in a media sociologist to see what people valued most about KDHX. One of the most commonly given answers was its “independence,” but as it turned out, different people had different definitions of the word. To programmers (who host their shows without pay), it means they have the freedom to play whatever music they wish without anyone exerting control over content. To the station’s board of directors, it is in decision-making — the lack of corporate ties allows the station to be more nimble in its business dealings. To the listener, it simply means no one is telling the station how to run itself.

For Hacker, independence is all of these things. “We get to do radio in a way that used to be really important, and it’s not done anymore. We get to take advantage of the passion and the knowledge and aesthetics of our programmers. We were able to move into the digital world so seamlessly because we’ve always been crowd-sourced.”

Proposal for master of arts in data journalism at Boise State

Copied below is my proposal, to be submitted today, for an Interdisciplinary Studies MA in Data Journalism at Boise State. It includes a list of courses I’ll be taking through the Fall of 2015:

The Interdisciplinary Master of Arts degree in data journalism proposed here describes a course of study that will prepare the student for work in data journalism, a specialty within the field of journalism that has flourished in the past five years. Websites like ProPublica, data scientists like Nate Silver, until recently with the New York Times, and data desks at media outlets from the venerable Washington Post to the upstart Texas Tribune to our own Boise State Public Radio demonstrate the popularity and usefulness of incorporating stronger data collection, analysis and presentation skills for journalism. Data journalism provides for an increased watchdog function of the popular press, leads to more rigorous storytelling backed by data, fits well with the the online news ecosystem and increases collaborations between scholarship and popular journalism. And the open data movement—a trend of providing large data sets to the public, along with analysis tools—while most vibrant in certain journalism circles, extends to government, university and even the private sectors.

Network diagram example
Example of network diagram from The Blue Review

I propose a course of study at Boise State that leans on both the practice of data science, considered broadly, and the theory behind popular media, especially online media. Data considered broadly includes traditional sources of data—collected and observed data and widely available government data sources—as well as wider conceptions of data including text analysis, web scraping, geographic data, social media data and API (application programming interface) analysis. Courses in geographic information systems, statistics and survey methods will provide a background in the limits and uses of data and data analysis tools (GIS, statistical packages,etc.) A graphic design course and computer science course (or independent study) in best practices for serving and presenting data online (data curation) will round out the skills necessary for presenting findings to the public in attractive and useful ways.

A second track of study in communication theory and nonfiction writing will round out the storytelling skills that represent the other side of data journalism. Finding and telling stories based on number crunching is essential to presenting data to the public. I have 13 years experience in daily and weekly journalism and propose a few courses in media theory to ground my experience in contemporary research on rapid changes in journalism, particularly the factors associated with the massive shift to online journalism.

Boise State does not currently offer an MA in journalism and the MA in communication strays significantly from my particular interest in data journalism. No current graduate program at Boise State fits my needs directly, but the interdisciplinary MA allows for a custom program, pulling relevant courses from several Boise State Departments. In fact, only a handful of journalism programs across the country now offer tracks in data journalism. Columbia University now offers a dual degree in journalism and computer science, for example, and many journalism schools are developing courses in programming and data science or specializations in data visualization and curation. By combining the offerings in public policy, community planning, communication, computer science and English at Boise State, we can approximate such a course of study and aid Boise State in further developing its journalism programs. Additionally, the combination of qualitative and quantitative methods that will constitute my thesis, will constitute a true implementation of interdisciplinarity.

Finally, my position as editor of The Blue Review, an online journal of popular scholarship, published by Boise State’s College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs, serves as a venue for many of the concepts covered by this proposal. The Blue Review will continue to serve as a lab for data journalism, marrying scholarship and reportage, serving open data to the public and providing popularly written analysis and description of research findings.

This proposed Interdisciplinary MA in Data Journalism represents a cutting-edge program, at the forefront of the national and international trend of bringing data to the masses. A thesis, still in the development stage, promises to present new findings on the marriage of journalism and scholarship in the realm of both information provision and the financial models supporting journalism, a topic with global ramifications.
The proposed courses represent a complete program in data journalism with a clear educational and career outcome.

Proposed Coursework

The following courses constitute my proposal for a master’s degree in data journalism at Boise State (updated 3/2016):

10 Steps to Maybe Getting Your Nonfiction Book Published

A generation ago we learned that the medium is the message. We segregated ourselves into media categories: TV people or radio people or print people and we perfected our medium with inverted pyramids and driveway moments and close-up, highly emotional footage.

And then, in the late ’90s, Google or Al Gore invented the internet and the media blew up again, mashing together our disciplines and ruining our attention spans. Some of us took to blogging, learned video and audio editing and survived. I dropped out to write a book during the precise two-year period in which “the book,” as we’ve known it for six centuries, ceased to exist.

If the medium is still the message, then this is the message to journalists who want to write books: you are crazy. You are better off getting a massage, as Marshall McLuhan hinted at in his famous 1967 book. But if you are willing to change the image of “the book” that is embedded in your DNA, if you are a media agnostic and know something about ones and zeroes, there is no limit to maybe getting your nonfiction book published if you follow these 10 ridiculously nerve-wracking steps.

  1. Pick a topic now. Find the universal themes in your work: what stories do you like to tell and how are they connected? For me, it was migration. I was fascinated by immigration as a cub reporter in Nampa, through 9/11 and throughout my early career. I eventually found the nugget of my book in a story about an American woman whose Mexican husband got stuck at the border after returning home to visit his sick mother. I wrote the story in 2005, but I knew that I hadn’t done it justice and that I’d come back to it one day. For a few years I knew I’d write an immigration book, then I figured out it would involve bi-national love stories and, boom, I had a topic.
  2. Tell everyone you meet what your book is about. This is counter to our competitive reportorial instincts, but is a key feature of the modern media age. Put it all out on the line. No one is going to steal your book topic and if they do you will do it better. Every conversation you have will increase your number of sources, hone your thesis and establish your expertise and credibility. Watch people’s faces as you tell them about your book. What do your crazy uncle, your best friend, the kid at the cash register, your doctor want to know about your topic? Another benefit of talking about your book all the time is that about 14 months later, all of these people will start asking you when it’s coming out and searching for your name of Amazon and you will be shamed into actually finishing it.
  3. Figure out the social media now. Use your social networks and your blog to connect with people about your book in the same way you are telling everyone around town about it. People are going to be searching for you, so give them something to find. This is your chance to force yourself into the book-writing class by sheer will. You will also need the connections that social media provides because when you write a book, you are utterly alone. You are no longer that guy or gal from the Weekly or the Times. You are not the local media or the national media. You are a lonely intellectual entrepreneur. Own that. Practice putting your name on the cover now by typing it again and again on Facebook and Twitter.
  4. Marry well. I mean this in a few senses. It’s going to cost you to write a book, both emotionally and financially. So it helps if you have a partner—not necessarily a spouse, but someone to support you emotionally and financially through the process and to kick your ass when needed (or at least get all Lysistrata on it). You are going to need to quit your job or take some time off and you are going to need to follow the story wherever it takes you. Get a simple part-time job so you can tell yourself you are helping pay the bills and keep your partner happy.
  5. Forget about grants. If you are good at getting grants, good luck to you. But nobody is going to pay you to write your first book. You may be able to raise some money for specific parts of the project—the Idaho Press Club granted me $500 to travel to Texas on a reporting trip (in exchange for this article). Use crowd-sourced fund raising sites like Kickstarter strategically, but don’t plan on getting paid upfront to write. You are some kind of tenured professor or something. You’re still just a hack.
  6. As soon as you know what the book is about and decide to write it, call all of your friends and their friends who have written books and ask them for advice. There are at dozens of paths to getting a book published and the more people you ask the quicker you will develop your own path. Have your elevator speech ready: what is the book about, why are you qualified to write it and who is going to read it? Don’t take it personally when there are long pauses on the other end of the line but don’t be afraid to ask how they got published and if they can help you in any way?
  7. Ignore all of the advice you get, despite what I wrote in No. 6. Also, ignore all of the laments about the demise of the book, the death of the reader, the end of writing. Those eulogies are not for YOUR book. Don’t join a writing group. You are better off having drinks with your former press colleagues and hearing about their scoops and deadline shenanigans and deep throat sources than hanging out with other people who are trying to write books. You are a journalist, not a novelist. Don’t forget that, even when your crazy uncle asks how your novel is coming along.
  8. Attack publishing from all the angles. Try to get introduced to an agent, preferably through the people you called in No. 6. Put together a non-fiction book proposal because it will force you to organize your ideas, consider your competition and future readership and establish your credentials. Google “self-publishing” once a month or so. Show your draft chapters to people whose opinions you value. But don’t forget to write your book and edit the heck out of it—no one is going to do this for you.
  9. Get organized now. Save your notes and label your notebooks. Archive your own stories so you don’t have to buy them from your old newspaper three years later. Keep track of your sources—that PIO or lawyer or business owner that you call once a week winces every time you write something because he or she knows there is so much more to the story. You are going to tap that when you decide to write the book. When you are on deadline, it’s no big deal to keep the contents of a notebook and 12 scraps of paper in your mind. But it’s going to take you much longer to write this book than you think. You may forget if that interview was from June 8, 2011 or June 8, 2010, so type everything up and keep it organized on your computer and then back it up in multiple places. I use Dropbox to keep all of my notes and drafts, more than 80 separate files at this point, synced between two computers, my iPod and the cloud.
  10. Enjoy the ride. You will bring all of your journalism skills to bear on this project and you will invent new ones. Your relationship with sources, your ideas about writing and deadlines and first-person and objectivity and transparency will all change. The question of what the book of the future looks like is wide open. Really smart, experienced writers and moneyed, old school publishers have no idea what it’s going to be. You will help shape this future with your book. Own it. And don’t get a massage until you are done.

This post originally published in the Summer 2012 Idaho Press Club Communicator.

Scraping pdfs, Ruby and Idaho elections, or …

… why I am never going to be a programmer. Last week I saw several reporters tweeting about checking the Idaho Secretary of State’s Election’s page throughout the day so as not to miss any new candidate filings during the current Idaho elections filing period.

https://twitter.com/KevinRichert/status/174613454685081600

I feel for Kevin and the rest of the Idaho Capitol Press Corps. While the Secretary of State does make a good effort to provide public information, and Secretary of State Ben Ysursa has been a champion of public records, there has got to be a better way.

See the live map here!
This is what happens now: The Secretary of State updates a .pdf file two or more times a day during the filing period and posts it on his web page. That means that anyone interested in the intrigue of candidate filing in Idaho’s newly refigured legislative districts has to bookmark the page, reload it several times a day and scan it for new entries.

I’ve been reading a lot about data journalism and thought I could follow some of the tutorials out there and create a nice little web scraper to tease out the scoops on candidate registration. I am really inspired by sites like ProPublica, which puts together awesome databases like this one on what influenced support on SOPA/PIPA or one on unequal course offerings in schools across the nation that incorporates maps. I like maps. The Guardian in the UK is also doing amazing things with data journalism and making information public and available and accessible. These guys make it look easy.

Brett Nelson, AKA "The Ruby"
So I took a Boise City Community Education class on Ruby programming last week, thinking I could pick up a few new skills. The only thing I really learned was that I’m going to stick with WordPress as a blog platform and it’s unlikely that I’ll ever be a real programmer. But I suggested to the teacher, my friend Brett Nelson, who works at Customated.com, that I had this idea to grab the candidate .pdf from the Secretary of State, convert it into a useful format and post it somewhere automatically so that my reporter friends don’t have to work so hard.

As with anything, it’s harder than it looks, and Brett ended up doing all of the heavy lifting on this.

Here is what (I think) we did:

  1. Wrote a ruby script (a little computer program) that automatically downloads the .pdf from the Secretary of State’s website as often as we like, converts it to text using Xpf, which preserves the spacing, and then uses Regular Expressions to parse the text into fields: District, Office, Party, Name, Address. The program runs remotely, on a server and activates itself. Yeah, it’s a bot.
  2. Use our nicely formated text file to build a Google Fusion table. Again, this is automated, using Google Maps/Fusion API commands. Google Fusion Tables allows us to easily place candidates on a Google Map, though it’s a bit more difficult to actually build the map on a web page, and requires a working knowledge of Javascript, another programming language.
  3. I told Brett I’d take it from there, but again, it was not that simple. First of all, I could not figure out how to embed all the javascript I’d need in a blog post on this blog, so I had to just make a new web page, that looks like it’s on this blog. Also, I really don’t get the details of javascript anyway. So once again, Brett bailed me out.
  4. I found a cool use of fusion tables that I wanted to emulate, allowing the user to select Senate, House A or House B races to display on the map so that they could easily see which districts had contested races. I spent hours trying to customize the Chicago homicide map linked above to my own needs, but gave up in desperation. Brett figured out the right calls we’d need to redraw the map (it’s not really that complicated, but it’s like learning a foreign language).
  5. Finally, after I’d say 25 hours between us, though my hours were much less valuable than his, we had a workable map. I’m still bummed it’s not as pretty and full of functionality as the Propublica projects are, but I think it’s quite useful.

So what can you do with this web app? First of all, I think it’s the first Google map of the newly drawn legislative districts. I converted the .shp file (L93) that the Commission published to a .kml file (which Google Maps reads) using Qgis on my Mac. So now people cal fly around the new districts, find their house, make sure that candidates actually live in their districts, figure out which legislators have the best nearby hunting spots, etc. UPDATE: The locations plotted for candidates are their filing addresses, not necessarily their home addresses, and thus may be located in a different district.

Second of all, you can easily see which races are contested for the May 15 Primary Elections by selecting one of the three Legislative races and looking for red or blue markers on the map. This map is constantly updated with new filing information. Candidate filing closes in a week, on March 9, so we will have to figure out how to make this information useful on an ongoing basis. I’d like to add web links and Twitter feed info for candidates and links to news articles about the races (if anyone wants to help, please speak up)!

Please let us know what you think and feel free to use any of the info you glean from our web app!

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, US State Department reps visit Boise

Last week, I interviewed Vincent Cochetel, the Regional Representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the United States and the Caribbean, and Kelly Gauger, Deputy Director for Refugee Admission at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration for Radio Boise. The two officials spoke at the 4th Annual Idaho Conference on Refugees at Boise State.

I have been working with Radio Boise to set up a news and public affairs department for months now, and wanted to test out my equipment, use the editing room at the studio and try out some different formats for journalism at the station. I’m also quite interested in refugee affairs and had some questions for Cochetel in particular.

Here is the story that ran today on Radio Boise:
[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/35801157″ params=”auto_play=false&show_artwork=true&color=ff7700″ width=”100%” iframe=”true” /]

This is a new format for me and I’d love to know what folks think. I know I have a few audio problems that audiophiles will notice. My editor’s hat also tells me it’s way too long, but I also think that community radio provides a good forum to allow interesting sources to speak at length on interesting topics. Both Cochetel and Gauger had a lot to say, and my interviews with three refugees confirmed and illustrated some of their points. At this point, we don’t have a dedicated time slot for reported stories like this at Radio Boise, so we had the freedom to run it long, before the afternoon syndicated newscasts (Free Speech Radio News and Democracy Now).

One thing I’d like to follow up on is the point toward the end about the intersection of economic, or voluntary migrants and asylum seekers. Increasingly these two groups are occupying the same space, whether it’s in urban Africa or in rural parts of the United States.

Here is a bonus clip on Vincent Cochetel’s 1998 kidnapping. He was held hostage in the Northern Caucuses for almost a year:

A vision for community radio (in Boise)

Ghetto Blaster by Stephen Barnett / Flickr
I’ve been working with my local community radio station to come up with a way of getting more “news” on the air here in Boise. A small group of local folks have been talking for a few months about ways of recruiting citizen journalists to produce the news report on Radio Boise. The recent call for ideas from the Association of Independents in Radio helped crystallize my thoughts on this, especially with AIR’s notion that public radio ought to “go outside” its comfort zone in pushing the boundaries of public media in the 21st Century.

Community radio is one medium that has always thrived on “going outside” and bottom up production. As community radio pioneer Lew Hill wrote in 1966: “A constant exchange between the staff and the audience enriches the schedule with fresh judgment and new ideas, materials, and issues. Thus members of the staff work out their own ideas and, if you like, categorical imperatives, with some of the undistracted certitude one feels in deciding what he will have for dinner, subject to the menu.”

Hill was describing the then-new interplay between radio producer and the citizen audience that kept the station lights on through listener sponsorship, as opposed to advertising. But in this media age, mere audience sponsorship is not enough—we now have the technological ability to radically dissolve the traditional barrier between broadcaster and audience through real-time audience feedback and citizen journalism. In a sense, a community radio station in 2011 must “go outside” in order to gather up the people and give them microphones.

The practical idea here is to recruit, train and deploy a small army of citizen reporters in Southwest Idaho through a series of public journalism events we might call the KRBX Radio News Experience. The Experience draws on several new modes of thought circulating in cutting edge journalism circles today including NYU Professor Jay Rosen’s “people formerly known as the audience” and CUNY Professor Jeff Jarvis’ notion of the “conference” as news event. As Megan Garber at the Nieman Journalism Lab put it recently: “Our assumptions about information itself are shifting, reshaping ‘the news’ from a commodity to a community, from a product to a process.”

One might think of it as Ignite Boise meets American Red Cross CPR training meets Poynter (2.0? 3.0?).

KRBX in Boise has been on the air for only six months and has already filled a gaping hole in the Southwest Idaho broadcast spectrum, attracting almost 900 individual supporters in its first on-air pledge drive this month and beating its own fund raising goal. Tired of the staid musical offerings and corporate driven news on commercial radio and cognizant of the yawning cultural gap between the East Coast driven news agenda of the local NPR affiliate and Boise’s Mountain West culture, the community has flocked to KRBX for its diverse musical offerings and voices. But Boise needs its own locally controlled and community driven news broadcast as well, as prioritized by these planks of Radio Boise’s mission:

  • Democratize the local media landscape by giving a voice to unrepresented or underrepresented members of our community
  • Provide an educational media clearinghouse for issues-oriented information
  • Strengthen “cultural health” and community identity”

Into the Boise-area news void we would convene the Experience, journeying with prospective citizen reporters through the process of pitching stories, gathering background, developing sources, conducting interviews, working as a news team, writing scripts and collecting and editing sound. The Experience would train up the next generation of radio reporters in Idaho, jumpstart KRBX’s essential foray into community news and serve as a model for crowd-sourced, event-based, collaborative news production.

We would take the Experience out into the community, holding fortnightly and then weekly events at high schools, Latino community centers, refugee resettlement agencies, college campuses, farmers’ markets, a pavilion at the county fair, the LGBT center and other neighborhood and community venues. The events would be fast paced and fun and will quickly involve people in the production process based on their interests and skills. Participants in each event could produce 2-3 polished stories that would then form the backbone of a weekly local news report for the station.

We could recruit among local bloggers, community groups with little to no access to the media and through the significant social networks already engaging with the station. The training/production experiment will also reach out to other community radio stations in Idaho, including a bilingual station that will soon be broadcasting in the Magic Valley and two new stations run by Native American tribes (KWIS and KIYE).

The Boise area is well positioned for this venture. It is the political and economic center of the state, has a growing creative class that is very engaged in building up the arts, considers itself a technology hub and as a refugee resettlement center, has a quickly emerging international diversity. All of these demographics could engage with the Radio News Experience platform.

The Radio Boise working group that has been meeting for a few months to brainstorm these possibilities has made it abundantly clear that people are (a) not satisfied with their current sources of local news and information and (b) want to be more intimately involved in decisions surrounding local media provision. Radio Boise would be an ideal laboratory to test both a higher caliber news product and a more democratically sourced news producer.