Twin Cities Daily Planet
Jeremy Iggers of the Twin Cities Media Alliance
and Ann Alquist of KFAI RadioMinneapolis
Twin Cities Daily Planet
1808 Riverside Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55454
(612) 341-3144 ext. 16
To create a Web site to launch during the 2005 municipal elections for community media outlets and citizen journalists to post and share print, audio and video news stories focused on the racially and ethnically diverse population of the Twin Cities. Inviting content on such topics as immigration, police/community relations, public safety, environment, the site will post stories from individuals and enable minority and ethnic journalists to reach a larger audience.
Check back for future news and updates.
Jump to progress reports:
• Final Report: October 2007
• May 2006
• February 2006
• November 2005
• August 2005
“Troubled Waters” earns TC Daily Planet awards in public journalism
Twin Cities Daily Planet reporter Molly Priesmeyer and editor Mary Turck are among the winners of the 2010 Premack Awards for Public Journalism, given by the Minnesota Journalism Center. The two will receive the George S. Hage Award for excellence in coverage of breaking news about public affairs in honor of their September 2010 story, “Who pulled the plug on University of Minnesota’s Troubled Waters?”
“The Twin Cities Daily Planet reporter broke a story that became a major controversy in the community,” Premack judges said in a press release. “The piece pulled back the curtain on how the levels of power function and demonstrated how a single person’s decision can affect an organization as large as the university.”
Priesmeyer and Turck will receive their awards on April 18 at the University of Minnesota’s McNamara Alumni Center.
TCDailyPlanet.net Builds Partnerships, Attracts Funding
Final Report: October 2007
In its second year, the Twin Cities Media Alliance and its community journalism initiative, the Twin Cities Daily Planet, grew dramatically. In June 2007 alone the site published 19 original articles by citizen journalists, and over 100 articles from its network of media partners. The number of original news and opinion pieces increased in part because the Daily Planet began paying contributors $30 to $100 per story.
Although traffic on the site has steadily risen, they recently discovered that the statistics they relied from their Web hosting company were inflated. Google Analytics, however, tracked 42,273 unique visitors between June 23 - July 23 2007, and 81,073 page views.
In the second year, the Daily Planet also built stronger partnerships, expanding its list to 49 community media outlets and a roster of regular bloggers. It struck a deal with community radio station KFAI to post mp3 audio news reports, and partnered with Minnesota Public Radio on a public forum recorded for broadcast titled Iran and America: Context, Connections and Conflict.
The Daily Planet also worked to build a sense of community and mutuality among its participating publications. Editor Mary Turck sends out a “Daily Planet Shares” list of stories that appeared originally in the Daily Planet, available for publication by all media partners, free of charge.
On the technology front, the site recently upgraded its content management system from Drupal 4.6 to Drupal 5.1. And, the site has begun using more multimedia content, including slide shows and video news reports (via YouTube).
To invite more user-generated content, Twin Cities Media Alliance has offered how-to classes through Minneapolis Public Library and Minneapolis Community Education on citizen journalism, photojournalism, neighborhood blogging, and video news reporting with amateur equipment and software.
Cultural diversity and understanding are top priority for the Daily Planet. The site regularly brings stories from Hmong Today, La Prensa de Minnesota, the African American community paper Minnesota Spokesman Recorder, Asian Pages and other minority media to readers who otherwise would not be exposed to these perspectives.
Project Founder Jeremy Iggers says, “We have started discussions with the director of a Saint Paul ESL program about how to incorporate writing assignments for the Daily Planet into her teaching curriculum. We hope that one outcome will be an increase in the number of immigrant voices.”
Iggers is proud of the synergy his project has helped create. For example, Abdirahman Aynte, editor of the Somali community paper Hiiraan Online, gained national media attention and a Minnesota Monitor blogging fellowship that enabled him to devote himself full-time to journalism. Aynte is now the elected board chair of the Twin Cities Media Alliance. His reporting has been published in La Prensa de Minnesota, Mshale (African immigrant publication) and the Daily Planet, while Hiiraan Online has reprinted articles from the Daily Planet and the African News Journal. This is a model for networked journalism.
According to Iggers, the mainstream media in town have taken notice.
“We have been told that The Daily Planet was a significant factor in the Star Tribune’s decision to launch its own alternative local news Web site, buzz.mn, and stories from The Daily Planet are now regularly featured as links on buzz.mn. We are also told that reporters at the Pioneer Press often check the Daily Planet for story tips.”
The financial picture at The Daily Planet looks promising. In its second year of operation, The Twin Cities Media Alliance received a $35,000 grant each from the McKnight Foundation and the St. Paul Foundation, $40,000 from the McCormick Tribune Foundation, $50,000 from the Minneapolis Foundation, and $10,000 from the Headwaters Foundation. Other grant requests are pending.
The site now has a part-time advertising sales representative and hopes a demographic survey to find out more about its readers will help boost ad sales.
Classes are another source of income. Although most are offered at cost with low registration fees, Twin Cities Media Alliance did charge $100 for a full-day media strategies for nonprofits workshop which drew 55 participants, netting $3,500.
The Daily Planet has much to be proud about. They have won a Knight-Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism, and a dot.org award from the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits, They have also increased the diversity of their board, media partners and contributing journalists.
But some concerns remain: Will they be able to attract enough ad revenue to realize their vision? What role will the Twin Cities Media Alliance play in the Minneapolis wireless network currently under construction? (They hope to win contracts to provide training and content for neighborhood wireless portals.) And, finally, will a new online news operation, organized by former Star Tribune publisher Joel Kramer lead to a content-sharing agreement, or will the Daily Planet “be overshadowed by a new, better-funded and more professional operation?” ponders Iggers.
Test Period Boosts Daily Planet’s Official Launch
The Twin Cities Daily Planet officially launched May 1, 2006, after spending nearly a year in test mode, attracting more than 30 local media partners, recruiting 15 editors, and raising $30,000 in additional funding.
As of May 20, the hard launch had nearly doubled its monthly unique visitors from 3,594 to more than 6,500. Page views tripled to more than 300,000 for the month versus 87,426 for the month of April.
Those numbers were nudged, in part, by a Minneapolis Star Tribune news item that was picked up on Jim Romenesko’s widely read media column. A forthcoming Editor & Publisher story was also in the works. However, the site is also updating its home page daily and sending out a daily email newsletter, alerting readers to new stories.
“We seem to be generating some local buzz,” said project leader Jeremy Iggers.
While most of the Daily Planet’s content is provided by more than 30 ethnic and community newspapers, including Hmong Today, the Minnesota Women’s Press and the Minneapolis Spokesman-Record, the number of original news stories and opinion pieces generated by citizens has increased steadily, Iggers said. Some of the citizen contributors have been students in Twin Cities Media Alliance board member Doug McGill’s citizen journalism classes, which are being offered in partnership with the Resource Center of the Americas.
“People are telling us that they appreciate seeing the many stories from neighborhood, minority and immigrant media ... that don’t get covered in mainstream media outlets,” Iggers said.
Some possible future partnerships are in the works:
- Both US Internet and Earthlink, the two finalists in the bidding to run a municipal WiFi project in Minneapolis, have said they plan to use the Daily Planet as their local news provider during neighborhood pilot projects that are to start in June.
- The local NBC affiliate, KARE11-TV, has expressed an interest in some kind of partnership.
- A popular local web site, www.mnspeak.com , has approached the Daily Planet about possibly joining an advertising consortium this summer.
So far, the venture has received a $20,000 grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation and a $10,000 grant from a local family fund, the Still Ain’t Satisfied Foundation. Other grant proposals are pending.
Databank Inc. has provided, free of charge, its donor management and membership software, which will help the project maintain a database of donors and volunteers and accept online contributions. Also, a part-time operations manager has been hired.
“If present audience trends continue,” Iggers said. “We are going to become a significant presence on the local media scene.”
Daily Planet Looks to Partner in Operations of Minneapolis WiFi Network
UPDATE: The Twin Cities Daily Planet formally launched their site, www.tcdailyplanet.info, on May 1.
The Twin Cities Daily Planet could get a major boost in visibility as it attempts to work out a partnership with US Internet, one of two finalists in the bidding to operate the Minneapolis WiFi Project, which would make wireless Internet access available throughout the city.
The Daily Planet seeks to become the local content provider for the company’s Internet portal, a partnership that would place the Daily Planet and its more than 30 partnering local media publications prominently in the public eye.
“It’s too early to predict whether US Internet will choose us, but we seem to be the leading candidate,” said project leader Jeremy Iggers. “If we are selected, that would greatly increase our visibility, and if US Internet is selected as the winning bidder for the city-wide project, that would give us a very significant readership base.”
After a soft launch in September 2005, the Twin Cities Daily Planet plans to formally launch their site, www.tcdailyplanet.info, in early March with new original content as well as articles from the newswire’s media partners.
To push for new content, board member Doug McGill, a former New York Times reporter and Bloomberg bureau chief, has been conducting citizen journalism training classes in cooperation with the Resource Center of the Americas, one of the Daily Planet’s media partners.
The Daily Planet has published several original articles by writers who have participated in these classes, and project leader Jeremy Iggers said he anticipates many more in the months to come.
The newswire also publishes stories from over 30 neighborhood and community media partners, paying special attention to diverse ethnic publications with little or no Web presence.
“Most of our content currently is reprinted from those publications,” Iggers said, “but we are increasing the amount of original content.”
To prepare for the formal launch, managing editor Craig Cox recruited 15 volunteer section editors and is encouraging them to expand the content in the site’s 19 sections. Cox also added several new media partners, including the African News Journal and Hmong Today.
The Daily Planet has had trouble attaining further grant funding, having applied for grants from the Stern Foundation, which immediately replied that it was going out of existence, and the Glaser Progress Foundation, which turned the proposal down.
However, the Daily Planet has grant applications pending with several other foundations and is approaching several individual donors. So far, the newswire has received three donations in the range of $500 to $2,000 from two board members and a board member’s spouse.
Iggers said he hopes to launch a membership drive in the spring and also would like to sell advertising and underwriting to help bring in more funds.
While money has been a concern for Iggers, he said the project is headed in a promising direction. “I am most pleased with the quality of the site and with the enthusiasm that the Daily Planet has generated,” he said. “People ‘get it.’”
Twin Cities Alliance Adds Media Partners,
Recruits Volunteer Editors
The Twin Cities Media Alliance is beta-testing its newly launched web site, Twin Cities Daily Planet, while it grows its roster of participating neighborhood and community media partners.
New partners in the alliance include La Prensa, the Twin Cities leading Hispanic publication, as well as nine other organizations: Insight (African-American), MNStories, Minnesota Spokesman Recorder (African-American), the Corcoran News, HiiraanOnline (Somali), Minnesota Women’s Press, Southwest Journal, Downtown Journal and Minnesota Daily.
“These last four publications have large audiences and operate with a high degree of professionalism and will improve both the reach and the quality of the Daily Planet,” project leader Jeremy Iggers said.
The alliance is seeking to bolster coverage of global-local stories by partnering with the Resource Center of the Americas, which has a roster of volunteers who monitor the Latin American press for stories of interest to the local Hispanic community and frequently produce original stories on issues of interest to immigrant communities and community activists.
WHAT WE USE:
- Drupal content management system.
The alliance’s Global-Local Editor Doug McGill, a former New York Times reporter, has begun teaching Saturday journalism training workshops at the Resource Center and plans to offer an expanded training program (two six-week classes) this winter.
The alliance has hired a Managing Editor, Craig Cox, who has recruited volunteer editors for many sections, including Arts, Books, Music, Culture, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Transportation. These editors will be responsible for recruiting citizen journalists to contribute articles, photography, and eventually video and audio content. Bonnie Wilson, recently retired as curator of photography at the Minnesota Historical Society, has joined the Planet as the photo gallery editor.
Most of the editors have been trained to use Drupal, the Daily Planet’s content management system. The site now also has software in place to create photo, audio and video galleries and will soon carry streaming videocasts and downloadable podcasts.
The Nov. 8 local elections for mayor, city council and park board provided an early opportunity to test the alliance’s ability to cover breaking news. Ann Alquist, news director of KFAI community radio, coordinated KFAI’s volunteer election-night coverage, which was updated throughout the evening by the Daily Planet.
More than 100 Twin Cities residents have been invited to test the site and are feeding back praise and constructive criticism. Meanwhile “word of the Daily Planet is slowly spreading throughout the local community.”
A development committee is being organized to pursue grants from foundations and individual donors while others explore ways to generate revenue from memberships, advertising and underwriting.
“The future viability of the Daily Planet depends on our quickly developing additional sources of funding,” Iggers said.
Neighborhood, Ethnic Media Sign On to Twin Cities Daily Planet
The Twin Cities Community Newswire has launched their Web site, Twin Cities Daily Planet. You can find it at http://www.tcdailyplanet.info.
“Cover the planet . . . or your neighborhood. Become a Daily Planet citizen journalist” urges a new Minneapolis/St. Paul community Web site that its volunteers will launch soon under the name Twin Cities Daily Planet: The Twin Cities Community Newswire.
The citizen journalism venture is relying on a growing alliance of participating community, ethnic and youth groups as well as citizen journalists to be its eyes and ears. Since May, the organizers, the Twin Cities Media Alliance, have wrangled support from a diverse group of 20 community news partners, including neighborhood, Latino, Asian and Native American news outlets. It expects several more groups to sign on in coming weeks.
“The plan is to feature the best and most timely stories in the main column on the home page, regardless of whether they came from independent citizen journalists or community media partners,” said Alliance director Jeremy Iggers,
The group has hired a part-time managing editor, Craig Cox, former Utne Reader managing editor and current publisher and editor of the Minneapolis Observer, a free monthly, to work 10 hours a week recruiting and maintaining relationships with participating media and citizen journalists.
The group hopes to diversify its Board of Directors and Board of Advisors with leaders from the cities’ ethnic and minority communities.
The group not only hopes to recruit citizen journalists, but train them as well. Ann Alquist, news director of partnering KFAI Community Radio, will head the training initiative. Already, a young Somali-American journalist has agreed to contribute material and serve as a bridge to the region’s growing Somali community.
While most of the participating media partners have their own Web sites, they are not set up to provide RSS feeds. The Daily Planet aims to help them install RSS, which will not only make it easier for the Daily Planet to syndicate their content, it will also make it easier for users to access stories in the various community newspapers.
The Newswire is also planning to develop audio content, both as streaming audio and podcasts, from its partner at KFAI and from other radio stations and individual producers.
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