The recent'Sourcing through Texting Summit at the WLRN Public Radio and Television Studios in Miami, brought 'journalists together to explore new ways for community members with limited Web access to'inform local news and voice their concerns through the Public Insight Network.
The Public Insight Network allows newsrooms to better connect to citizens, and use their expertise and experiences to produce stories that are more insightful and bring public concerns to light. In 2008,' Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media expanded the platform to news organizations across the country with a Knight Foundation grant.
The easier it is for community members to reach professional journalists, the more they can contribute their knowledge and experiences to make stories richer. Perhaps few people in lower-income communities have personal computers with easy access to the Internet, but'many'have mobile access.
Jed Alpert of Mobile Commons explained that people with mobile devices text more than they do anything else, including make phone calls. The platform Mobile Commons developed with Public Insight Network makes it possible for citizens to report on a local concern using texting.
Using the platform, journalists can search through a database of text messages and filter them by topic and location to map trends and find story ledes. In Detroit, WDET is'investigating how oversize trucks taking illegal routes through residential areas affects quality of life'using'Public Insight Journalism. Anyone can report on the trucks by texting 'truck' to a local phone number, which prompts an automatic text asking for their location and the truck's license plate number.
At the Miami summit, participants from WLRN and The Miami Herald, WNYC's The Takeaway, Public Radio International, and American Public Media's Public Insight Journalism network spent a day in'the Little Haiti neighborhood talking to residents about improvements they'd like to see in their community.
The next day, they brainstormed ways that residents could use text messaging so that local media and tell the story behind the news. John Keefe of WNYC led the brainstorm, which used a format developed by Stanford Institute of Design.
People without a personal computer or a cell phone can' access the Internet to contribute to news stories at the library. Linda Fantin, the Director of'Public Insight Journalism at Minnesota Public Radio, has talked about the project'with such groups as the American Librarian Association. Knight Foundation's Library Initiative helps libraries become information centers for their communities.
The Miami team came up with prototypes for connecting Little Haiti residents to local media after their brainstorming session. They are available on PRI's YouTube channel. For more on the summit, see'PRI's Michael Skoler's post on the Knight Digital Media Center blog.