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Storytelling with Storify

Guest post by Community Media Workshop board member Teresa Puente

Looking for an innovative way to tell a story?

Try Storify.

Storify uses social media to curate and create stories.

You pull publicly available information from Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram and You Tube. You also can paste a link from anything you find in the web and post it on Storify.

You can pick a topic that is in the news, such as a recent protest, sporting event or anything sources have posted content about on the social media networks.

Or you can create a Storify on an issue that your nonprofit is following. Say you have an event or press conference. You can take photos, videos, tweets or stories from that event and create a Storify of the event itself, of news media coverage of the event or a combination of the two.

Here is how you start:

Login with your Twitter account.

Write a headline for your Storify.

In the box below you can write a lede or a summary.

You build a Storify by using key words or hashtags (#) to search topics on the right.

Drag the content you want to use into the left space. This is where you build your Storify.

Also note that you can write mini text blocks in between each item you curate. You can use this for captions or add additional information about the social media content.

You may want a total of eight to 10 items in your Storify. Make sure there is a balance of tweets, Facebook posts, photos, video an text.

Then you publish your piece. You can share it with others on Twitter. People also can follow you on Storify.

Many news organizations and bloggers are using Storify as a storytelling tool. Once your Storify is published you can share the link or embed it on a blog or website.

It’s a great way to aggregate and curate content as well as share your original content that you have posted on the various social media networks.

See my video tutorial here:


Teresa Puente, author of “Chicanísima” blog on the ChicagoNow network is founder of “Latina” A veteran journalist, she is also an Associate Professor of Journalism at Columbia College Chicago and a long-standing board member of Community Media Workshop. Follow her tweets @tcpuente

Fourteen New Local Reporting Awards Approved for Community News Projects on South and West Sides

Fourteen New Local Reporting Awards Approved

for Community News Projects on South and West Sides

CHICAGO – The Chicago Community Trust’s Community News Matters program approved $70,000 in Local Reporting Awards for 14 community news projects focusing on issues affecting the south and west sides of Chicago. The community news projects will highlight various issues, from realities facing the LGBTQ community within the criminal system to the effects of domestic violence and mental health on residents in the Back of the Yards community.


“The Trust is pleased to support innovative approaches to share stories written by and about the south and west side of Chicago,” said Ngoan Le, Vice President of Program at The Chicago Community Trust.  “We can all benefit learning more about issues important to these communities.”

Each project will receive $5,000 to support original reporting or data analysis. This is the second round of Local Reporting Awards, which are funded by The Chicago Community Trust, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.  Winners this year were chosen from among proposals requested from the 31 winners of 2011 awards.

The Community Media Workshop, is administering the Local Reporting Awards program for The Chicago Community Trust and is providing social media trainings for the awardees.

“This highly evaluated project which draws on the expertise of community leaders and organizations brought to public attention a variety of new voices and impactful journalism from often under-reported neighborhoods,” said Workshop president Thom Clark.

Among the recipients of 2012 Local Reporting Awards are Health and Disability Advocates, which will document health care difficulties facing local military veterans; Latinos Progresando, which will document monologues by youth regarding Latino and American cultural perspectives; and the Neighborhood Writing Alliance, which will examine the impact of incarceration among West and South side Chicago residents. View the full list of awardees on the next page or at



Here are the recipients of the 2012 Local Reporting Awards:

  1. Chicago Reporter, to investigate Chicago’s Section 8 housing program;
  2. Windy City Times, to investigate the realties facing the LGBTQ community in the criminal legal system;
  3. In These Times, to explore participatory budgeting on Chicago’s 5th ward;
  4. Health and Disability Advocates, to document health care difficulties facing local military veterans;
  5. Bill Healy, to enhance the content and distribution of projects by fellow award winners;
  6. Kari Lydersen, to explore community impact of Southside steel site redevelopment;
  7. The Gate, to explore domestic violence and mental health in the Back of the Yards community;
  8. Latinos Progresando, to document monologues by youth regarding Latino and American cultural perspectives;
  9. Austin Talks, to produce a video documentary about homicides of Chicago youth;
  10. Carlos Javier Ortiz, to produce a video documentary of youth violence at Stroger Hospital;
  11. Neighborhood Writing Alliance, to document the impact of incarceration among West and South side Chicago residents;
  12. Kalyn Belsha, to investigate leadership support for Latina women in Chicago;
  13. Amandillo Cuzan, to produce a video documentary on Bronzeville area schools;
  14. Westside Writing Alliance, to document the impact of school reform in the Humboldt/Garfield Park area.

The Local Reporting Initiative seeks to address the shifting media landscape including the continued growth of online news sites.  It also focuses on the continued development of new channels to ensure that high-quality, civic-minded information reaches and engages theses communities.

The Local Reporting Awards are a direct response to the findings of a 2010 Community News Matters research report that discovered Chicago area residents do not feel they fully understand the region’s challenges. Residents of low-income south and west side neighborhoods were especially concerned that traditional news outlets do not cover relevant issues in their communities. The Trust’s Community News Matters program seeks to increase the flow of truthful, accurate and insightful local news and information and help the region’s cutting edge innovators develop new models for providing news and information.


MMC Notepad: Posting on Chicago’s community news portals

This MMC Notepad courtesy of MMC Scribe Judith Greifer.

Thanks to LISC/Chicago’s Smart Communities project, Chicago now has five Community News Portals – online community news sites that encourage community resident participation. The portal infrastructure is designed by a team, and then content is added by the site managers as well as external community residents. These portals can have blogs, links to other websites, videos, links to Facebook and other social media, and use can be tracked/analyzed via Google Analytics or similar tools.

The portals featured in this Making Media Connections workshop were funded through a pilot program designed to encourage residents to build a sense of community, to create a useful tool for neighborhood information, to encourage use of technology in civic areas, and to bolster a positive community image. The portals described represent five Chicago neighborhoods: Englewood, Pilsen, Humboldt Park, Chicago Lawn and Auburn Gresham.

Community portals invite all community residents but especially those not already connected to neighborhood organizations to post news relevant to the community. The goal is to create a digital mindset to integrate these tools into daily life — to make it second nature as a means of community participation and information.

In general, neighborhood portals share common features:

  1. They are hyper local sites.
  2. Viewers can also post events and news. Common attributes of the featured portals include: News, Home, Directory, Calendar, About Us, Job Postings, Housing, Events (Calendar).
  3. They hope to help communities overcome the generational divide in terms of using technology.
  4. Information on portals can get picked up by other people, organizations and news sources. This promotes a better, and more positive, understanding of the community.
  5. The Smart Communities program initiative helped communities create portals with these common approaches:
    1. Every community portal has a technology organizer who teaches community classes how to participate online.
    2. Each portal has an editor.
    3. Each portal has a Family Net series of classes, designed to be family friendly so families can bring children if they can’t get childcare. (Humboldt Park has two Family Net Centers for Latino and African American populations).
    4. Business network resource to do technology assessments where leaders plan on how small businesses can integrate technology into everyday operations.
    5. Classes are geared to a broad range of people – from individuals new to the computer and Internet to those ready to use more sophisticated technology.





Be a big fish in a small pond

Guest post by Workshop Intern dalila Renteria

Sometimes we really want our organization’s stories to top headlines across major outlets and reach a big, wide audience.  But in these turbulent times, with headlines ranging from wars in the Mideast to the indiscretions of Schwarzenegger it is very easy for the wonderful things that your organization does to get lost in the shuffle.

Perhaps it is time you consider trying to obtain a larger, local audience through the use of a smaller news outlet. There are many community-based newspapers that publish content created by their very own communities, and Chicago has five new community news sites including the Pilsen Portal, the Humboldt Park Portal, the Englewood Portal, the Auburn Gresham Portal, and the Chicago Lawn Portal to help you share your news. These are online news sites focused on one specific Chicago neighborhood where you can post information and events. It’s about the community, by the community!

Getting press coverage in these smaller community-driven outlets is vital to your organization’s success. The community newspapers and news sites have a dedicated, local following and the more coverage you’re able to get in these papers the more chance there is for you to snag a major headline in one of the bigger outlets when the time is right.

There are lots of community-driven news outlets in Chicago. (You can find a complete list in our media guide.) Learn more about how to use these community news portals,  how to pitch to them and how to post at our conference next week. Making Media Connections will host a panel that has representatives from these new local news portals. For more information and to register please visit our conference’s site.

Our very own Newstips Editor Curtis Black has always known the importance of community-driven news and wrote about the portals a few months back when they were kicking off.

“It’s about the value, not the cost of local news”

Interesting day at the office with the unveiling of our NEW News report on Chicago online news.

I wished I was interviewing Phil Rosenthal instead of the other way around this afternoon, since he came up with the best soundbite so far:”It’s about the value, not the cost of local news.” Wish he’d said that in his column! ah, well.

It was nice to get a call from Alexander Russo of the District 299 blog covering Chicago Public Schools. It’s now appearing at Chicago Now and includes a brief mention of the report (good move, Tribune!)

Just a quick wrap up of other reactions: Read the rest of this entry »

Where’s the new news?

As struggling local newspapers continue to abandon the printed page, foundations, entrepreneurs and journalists are launching “hyperlocal” and watchdog news Web sites.

Where and who are they? What do they tell us about the new media landscape?

We’ve pinpointed significant news Web sites emerging around the United States and beyond by creating this custom Google Map for the Community Media Workshop.

Chicago is fertile ground for a number of “new news” sites, such as LISC/New Communities, Chi-Town Daily News and EveryBlock, to name just a few.

Click on the map, then zoom in or search it for specific locations to get a closer view of the emerging players in online news.

Have more sites to add? Please tell us in the comments!

–Elsa Wenzel

Citizen Videographer


by Thom Clark

When Workshop storyteller trainer Susan O’Halloran was interviewed by New York Times Chicago Bureau Chief Monica Davey for a Sunday pre-election story on preparations for Barack Obama’s election night celebration in Grant Park, little did she know her story about being chased by police out of Grant Park in 1968 would lead to her becoming a citizen journalist for the Canadian Broadcast Corporation.

The CBC contacted Sue and gave her a camera to document her election day experiences–from getting out the vote in Evanston to joining the crowds welcoming the president elect and his family in Grant Park. The subsequent CBC report can be seen here.  



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        By Stephen Franklin Community Media Workshop   A 3-year-old child died on a plane from Chicago to Poland. This, Magdalena Pantelis instantly knew, was a story her readers would care about. But she needed more detail to write about it for the Polish Daily News, the nation’s oldest daily newspaper in Polish, founded Jan. […]