We are excited to announce the launch of a one-year pilot of Cleveland Documenters, in partnership with Chicago-based civic journalism lab City Bureau and with support from the Cleveland Foundation and the Visible Voice Charitable Fund of the Cleveland Foundation.
We will recruit, train and pay Greater Clevelanders to document official committee meetings of the Cuyahoga County and City of Cleveland governments and contribute to a communal pool of public knowledge. Residents will sign up to be trained and paid $16/hour to document these meetings and publish content on Documenters.org, which is already open and free for the public to track public meeting schedules, agendas and meeting minutes. The Documenters program is expected to be up and running later this year when social distancing restrictions due to COVID-19 are worked out.
We’re looking forward to bringing Documenters to Cleveland to expand the toolbox for residents to take action in their communities.
The vast majority of government meetings throughout the country produce minimal records and receive little to no media coverage, due in part to ever-increasing resource constraints and shifting business models in local newsrooms. The Documenters program provides practical, actionable solutions for strengthening civic engagement and news literacy and building trust around news media and civic processes while also providing real-time content for and by residents and for local news outlets.
“City Bureau believes that accountability is a necessary ingredient for local democracy,” said Darryl Holliday, one of City Bureau’s co-founders. “Our Documenters program creates a path for the people of Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago to produce accurate, reliable information alongside community organizers, educators, journalists and others working toward an equitable future.”
To date, more than 1,300 people have enrolled in the Documenters program in Chicago and Detroit. The goal is to document 300 public meetings in the first pilot year in Cleveland.
Last year, Neighborhood Connections worked with the Cleveland Foundation and Akron Community Foundation to bring City Bureau’s City Scrapers pilot to Northeast Ohio. Using tools and technologies developed for Documenters.org, the City Bureau team compiled a detailed list of all governmental bodies that host public meetings in Cleveland and Akron (city governments) as well as Cuyahoga and Summit (county governments). The team gathered more than 150 city- and county-level government bodies that host recurring meetings that are open to the public. By standardizing and sharing meeting locations, dates, times and official records for each of those agencies through its free, easy-to-browse website – Documenters.org – City Bureau makes it easier than ever to monitor and analyze local decisions, trace community impact and spark policy discussions.
We will be hiring a Field Coordinator to manage the Documenters trainings and assignments. If you’re interested in learning more about that job, please click here.
About City Bureau
Founded in 2015, City Bureau is a nonprofit civic journalism lab based on the South Side of Chicago. City Bureau brings journalists and communities together in a collaborative spirit to produce media that is impactful, equitable and responsive to the public. For more information, visit www.citybureau.org.