Community and Collaboration: Getting it done for free

This week the staff of Montgomery Media’s Perkasie News-Herald launched a WordPress site at http://pa.jrcbenfranklin.com/.

While some of the functionality still links back to Montgomery Media’s original site (including classifieds, privacy policy, etc.) the site provides the basic functionality. (Full disclosure: We are paying $7 per month for the domain jrcbenfranklin.com and for hosting services.)

The staff has also been using free tools for the planning and reporting process.

Google Wave allows members of the team, who work in separate offices, to collaborate on story planning and track progress on everything ranging from crowdsourcing to training.

And while that was going on the staff at the News-Herald in Lake County, Ohio were able to put together a front page using Scribus — a free desktop publishing program.

Take a look at the photo and pick which front was done with Scribus.

While free tools have been part of the focus on The Ben Franklin Project, it’s also about including the audience in the process.

To that end, the News-Herald in Ohio has asked readers and users to help map the most dangerous intersections in Lake County. Using Facebook the staff posed the question to the Facebook nation and quickly received more than a dozen comments from concerned drivers. The News-Herald reporting team will now research those intersections to determine — using information from area police departments — if those are the most dangerous intersections in the county.

The News-Herald, Ohio staff is also working on a story focusing on blight in the community. Residents have been asked to log on to the News-Herald’s website and utilizing SeeClickFix — a community non-emergency reporting portal with which Journal Register Company has a partnership — report blighted buildings and properties in the area. The collective reach of the community can quickly find and report these properties and The News-Herald’s reporting staff will then find out how these properties fell into disrepair and report on what is being done to clean up these areas.

Back in Pennsylvania the Montgomery Media team has — among other projects — asked the community to help create a community tour of the Pennridge area.  Utilizing a Google map, the staff started to plot photos and videos submitted by the community who was asked to simply submit “anything that makes you think, ‘This is why I call this place ‘home’.”

1 Comment

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One response to “Community and Collaboration: Getting it done for free

  1. Emily Morris

    I’m voting for the left one as the one done with Scribus. Can’t wait to hear more about how this went.

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