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September 28, 2011
Grassroots Project to Foster Citizen Journalism
Community News Commons will empower Winnipeggers to share the news that’s important to them
 
The Winnipeg Foundation and Winnipeg Free Press today announced the creation of the Community News Commons, an innovative new project that fosters community-generated reporting though a grassroots news hub. The Free Press News Café, located in the Exchange District, will anchor the Commons.
 
The project, which has three-year funding from both The Winnipeg Foundation and the US-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will include training and mentoring for citizen journalists, as well as multi-media platforms to share the news and information they deem most important. It will also feature technology hubs for information access and uploading in select Winnipeg Public Library branches, and opportunities for Red River College journalism students.
 
“This is an exciting and unique community-building opportunity,” says Richard Frost, CEO of The Winnipeg Foundation. “Everyday Winnipeggers will become empowered, inspired and trained as citizen journalists and the entire community will benefit from increased access to grassroots news and information. We believe a more engaged and informed community, is a more philanthropic community.”
 
Funding was secured earlier this year and a project convener will be hired in the coming months. Programming will be launched in early 2012.
 
“The news café was designed from the start to be this community hub, a place where people could come to share ideas and issues, so when The Winnipeg Foundation came to us with this proposal for a citizen journalism project – to do exactly what we’d dreamed of doing downtown – it was really quite exciting. It’s an unprecedented and unique partnership for the Winnipeg Free Press, but we think it’s going to be a model for other news organizations and other communities across North America,” said Free Press Editor Margo Goodhand.
 
The Community News Commons is the first project of its type outside of the US to receive support through the Knight Foundation’s $24-million Community Information Challenge granting program, which has invested in more than 80 projects to date. The granting challenge was launched in 2008 to engage community and place-based foundations in meeting local information needs. The goal is to build informed and engaged communities.
 
Earlier this summer, Knight Foundation approved a grant of $200,000 to the Community News Commons project, which will be matched by The Winnipeg Foundation. Similar citizen journalism news projects are operating in several US communities. The Winnipeg initiative is the only one of 84 funded projects partnered with a news café.
 
The Winnipeg Free Press is 138 years old, and one of the few remaining independent newspapers in the country. Among major newspaper markets, the Winnipeg Free Press has the highest readership in Canada. It was deemed the nation’s best newspaper in 2009 by the Canadian Journalism Foundation.
 
The Winnipeg Foundation, Canada’s first community foundation, celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2011. Last year, the Foundation granted approximately $21 million to almost 700 charitable organizations, working in the areas of community service, education and employment, health, environment, heritage, arts and culture, and recreation.
 
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For more information, contact:
 
Richard Frost, CEO
The Winnipeg Foundation
 
Margo Goodhand, Editor
Winnipeg Free Press
 
LuAnn Lovlin
Director of Communications
The Winnipeg Foundation
 

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