NNS teams up with other nonprofit newsrooms to create News414

NNS+is+at+an+organizational+point%2C+trying+to+figure+out+benchmarks+they+need+to+meet+because+the+project+has+to+be+done+by+this+time+next+year%2C+Ron+Smith+said.
Back to Article
Back to Article

NNS teams up with other nonprofit newsrooms to create News414

NNS is at an organizational point, trying to figure out benchmarks they need to meet because the project has to be done by this time next year, Ron Smith said.

NNS is at an organizational point, trying to figure out benchmarks they need to meet because the project has to be done by this time next year, Ron Smith said.

Photo by Claire Gallagher

NNS is at an organizational point, trying to figure out benchmarks they need to meet because the project has to be done by this time next year, Ron Smith said.

Photo by Claire Gallagher

Photo by Claire Gallagher

NNS is at an organizational point, trying to figure out benchmarks they need to meet because the project has to be done by this time next year, Ron Smith said.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, a nonprofit news organization housed in the College of Communication, has teamed up with other nonprofit newsrooms — the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism in Madison, Wisconsin, and Outlier Media in Detroit — to create News414 project.

The project will learn what Milwaukee residents in underserved communities want to read in the news and then send those stories directly to the residents’ phones as a text message, according to its website.

The group of newsrooms is one of 34 recipients to receive funding from Google’s News Initiative Innovation Challenge, which is Google’s effort to help journalism succeed during the digital age, according to their website. The initiative gave the group $234,000 to launch News414.

“We could not have done it without each other … we are three local nonprofit newsrooms coming together to serve an audience that has not been served in this way, so it’s very exciting,” Ron Smith, Marquette professor and the editor for NNS, said. 

Smith and Andy Hall, a co-founder of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, applied for the grant even though Smith did not think they would get it.

“I remember telling Andy, ‘You know, if we don’t get it, we’re going to do it anyway … so there’s nothing lost if we don’t get this,’ and then the next day I get this email and Andy’s like, ‘Uh but we got it,’” Smith said.

Outlier Media was the first organization to text readers stories, Edgar Mendez, NNS reporter, said.

The organization reaches nearly 400 Detroit residents through their cellphones, informing them about housing and utilities information, according to Outlier’s website.

They learned Detroit residents wanted to know about housing and utilities information after using call center data from United Way’s 211 service, a free service that helps people across the country find local resources they need, according to their website.

This is what News414 aims to do with the Milwaukee community, and Hall was the one to reach out to Outlier Media to get them involved.

Hall said that they were looking for a way to expand and test their innovative use of SMS text messaging, and they were interested in focusing on Milwaukee.

“We saw a way for all of us to work together to do some exciting things … to produce interactive public service journalism for residents of underserved Milwaukee neighborhoods,” Hall said.

Smith said NNS is at an organizational point, trying to figure out benchmarks they need to meet as  the project has to be done by this time next year.

With the budget they received from Google, as well as some of their own budget, Smith said NNS is working on hiring temporary community engagement position to find out what the community wants to know.

Smith said he does not yet know any specifics about how it is going to look, but he is aware that they might have to change the way they report and write stories.

For example, Smith said since the stories will be displayed on phones, they will have to write shorter stories, and every word will count.

“It’s going to be a lot of change, but I think it is going to be rewarding,” Smith said.

Mendez asked that they will have to change the way they report depending on what the readers want to know about.

“We think about what we think the readers want to know or learn about and then deliver that news to them. But with this model and this project, we actually are going to flip it and talk to the readers and talk to the community about news that they want and how they want it delivered,” Mendez said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email