The news agency that put Winnipeg on the world map with the story of the bus driver who gave his shoes to a homeless man is waiting for your story.
There is more than enough work for every aspiring citizen journalist in this city. The rewards are plentiful but they are not monetary. Thanks to Community News Commons I have met the most interesting aspiring writers whose own personal stories are amazing.
The citizen journalism / community engagement project known as CNC has participants from all over the world who have gone on to employment at local news outlets.
Two former students won journalism awards for their work published on CNC, another has been published in a medical journal, and several more have used their published CNC stories in their portfolios.
A recent feather in CNC’s cap was when citizen reporter, Doug Kretchmer, was the first and only reporter / photographer at a Wolseley neighbourhood fire, where he captured exclusive photo and video coverage of the devastating event.
CNC program co-ordinator Noah Erenberg runs free multi-media workshops on a co-operative, collaborative model where writers feel safe to share ideas and celebrate each others’ published works.
Not only does CNC provide free editorial guidance throughout the year and regular multi-media workshops, in addition to the online news it publishes from scores of citizen reporters, it also has Daily News Podcasts and Photo of the Day where aspiring photographers can display their creativity. As well, every Sunday morning (8 – 9 a.m.) radio show River City 360 features CNC audio stories on CJNU 93.7 FM.
All CNC published stories 2012-2016 are archived and available on the site.
When I took my first CNC workshop two years ago I could not have imagined the adventures that being a citizen reporter would bring. You can check out this spring’s lineup of CNC multi-media sessions here: CNC offers free multi-media workshops
“We are not made of atoms, we are made of stories.”
Grassroots stories, hidden in plain view, are waiting for you to tell them about all the people and events not found in mainstream media. Those stories are happening in the Canadian city that is consistently deemed the most caring community in the country.
Your story repository is the same city the Globe and Mail refers to as the Culture Capital of Canada and National Geographic named as one of the top seven places in the world to see. The Slurpee Capital of North America is also in the running for Most Intelligent City in the World. And according to the Hermetic Code we really are the centre of the Universe.
Would I have had the gumption to attend the San Francisco Writers Festival and register as a real writer if it weren’t for CNC? No! Would I be applying to the Banff Writers Centre if it weren’t for CNC? Negative.
Would I have sold a story to CBC if producer Iris Udai hadn’t been so encouraging when she was guest speaker at a recent CNC worksop? Not likely. Would I have watched the movie Spotlight seven times and counting if it weren’t for CNC Editor, Noah Erenberg? Maybe.
Would I be building a blog if not for CNC? Uh uh. Would I be entering CBC’s non-fiction writing contest without the exposure to CNC? Fat chance. Would I have a cool t-shirt thanks to a contest run by CNC workshop instructor Dan Lett? Nope.
Would I have one of these cool business cards with me at all times if CNC didn’t believe every one of us can be a citizen reporter?
One of my favourite CNC writing experiences was the result of an obituary in the Winnipeg Free Press. It said a woman named Myrtle never missed the Children’s Hospital Book Market at St. Vital Centre. My CNC article that ensued from that obit and the radio interview about it helped build my platform which lead to a connection with a Canadian publisher.
Convinced writers must take a vow of poverty my husband often said, “Don’t give up your day job.” I often replied, “The Universe will provide.” I’d like to believe Myrtle is helping with a book deal.
We may not get a paycheck for writing for CNC but the training we receive is priceless. A Masters Degree specializing in Writing and New Media from Athabasca University costs $17,500. plus.
You can get the practical nuts and bolts of electronic journalism for free under the tutelage of CNC staff and presenters. Your tuition is covered by The Winnipeg Foundation and CNC’s primary partners: the Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg Public Library and Red River College.
The opportunity to use that training to give back by writing for CNC is also a valuable gift that keeps on giving. My gratitude for this opportunity knows no bounds.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
This personal essay was helped along by some books I found inspiring and you might too: One Continuous Mistake by Gail Sher, Inspiration for Writers, Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm, Stein on Writing by Sol Stein, and Writer’s Gym by Eliza Clark.