"This is the training I've been waiting for!" said David Schatz.

"A writer is a person who has the courage to fill an empty page.” Tweeted @LindsayMcNamara quoting one of our speakers from Saturday’s citizen journalism training.

David and Lindsay were among the dozens of people who took time out Saturday morning to learn the tools and techniques to become skilled community reporters. From professional journalists to novice reporters, a broad group of concerned citizens came together to learn how they can be better communicators in their communities and have the courage to tell their stories.

“Information Matters: Getting the Real Story” was the first in a series of citizen journalism trainings supported by the New Jersey Recovery Fund.  The sessions were taught by WHYY/Newsworks and Jersey Shore Hurricane News reporters, who offered their own wit and wisdom for navigating today’s media environment.

Information_Matters_-_10.5.13_017.jpgThough The Citizens Campaign has been teaching the basics of citizen journalism for several years now, this workshop presented the first opportunity for citizens to gain more advanced training. Residents from across the state made the journey to learn from the pros.

WHYY/Newsworks Multimedia Producer Lindsay Lazarski presented the ABCs of Photojournalism - including the basic shots every reporter should get and additional tricks on capturing a story through a lens. Lindsay showed attendees that good photographers "don't manipulate" what is happening.  Photojournalism is about capturing the story as is.

2013-10-05_12.35.15.jpgTaking what are emotionally difficult issues, Dr. Harris Sokoloff of the Penn Project for Civic Engagement showed attendees how to engage people in conversations and framing issues while remaining neutral and cognizant of different perspectives. Dr. Sokoloff showed attendees how to bring people together and frame the issues, teaching us "there's another way of looking at" every situation.  

WHYY/Newsworks Vice President of News Chris Satullo gave attendees practical guidance on how to write well and remain impartial when covering a story. Chris emphasized why staying non-partisan and unbiased is critical for good reporting. It not only leads to better stories, but also helps garner broader readership.

Jersey Shore Hurricane News Justin Auciello and WHYY/Newsworks Sandy reporter Tracey Samuelson covered a wealth of information in their session  -- from how to use OPRA to get to the documents you want, how to use technology to report better, and the dos and don’t of covering breaking news. The bottom line, according to Justin, "Don't exaggerate. Tell it like it is.”

Videos and take aways from this session are all available on our blog (CLICK HERE). This was the first in a three part series.  The next two sessions will also offer in-depth training on other subjects.

On November 2, attendees will learn about how to publish news themselves via online tools. Co-sponsored with New Jersey News Commons, “It Takes a Village: Working together Online,” will teach people how to start their own blog, crowd source news, data mapping, and photojournalism.

“Now that folks have a solid foundation of journalism skills, we want to take their reporting online,” said Heather Taylor. “Today’s online world offers a million different opportunities.  Anyone can become a community reporter on Facebook or a photojournalist on Instagram, it’s about knowing all of the tools at our disposal.”

The third session on November 16 will focus on our municipal governments and whether they will be ready next time a major emergency strikes. “Eyewitness Reports: Are we ready or not?” will focus on investigative journalism skills and reporting on what our towns are doing.

This event was made possible with funding from the New Jersey Recovery Fund, which supports initiatives that engage local residents in community-building and improving the quality of and access to information about the recovery and rebuilding.

Additional sponsors of this series are: Sustainable Jersey, Creative New Jersey, Clean Ocean Action, NJ News Commons, Rita Allen Foundation, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and the Community Foundation of New Jersey.


Pictured above: Tracey Samuelson & Justin Auciello (pictured left), photo by The Citizens Campaign.  Harris Sokoloff, Director of the Penn Project for Civic Engagement (pictured right). Photo courtesy of Alan Tu/for Newsworks.