I want to be a guerrilla journalist.
Today I had a great conversation about an industry that can feel a lot like a zoo. Ironic because the interview was for the Media Giraffe Project...an effort to find and share information about journalists who are 'sticking their necks out' to make media better.
Clyde Bentley, professor and fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute, told me all about his life as a guerrilla journalist. He used the term because his approach to journalism is ruthless. He has never and will never stop trying to find ways to better serve the community and meet the needs of the people. Not just any people...citizen journalists. His medium is print, but he says it's silly to focus only on readership. For Bentley, the goal is just as much about writership.
That's why he started MyMissourian. It provides a forum for readers to become writers and contributors to the local paper they so often read cover to cover. Bentley says it was the second project of its kind in the whole country. The goal is not to compete against the paper, but to create another part of it. A part where readers, who Bentley and others insist have no real desire to be journalists, get the chance to share their lives. It's easy...agree to follow four simple rules and your stories --about family, faith, politics (surprisingly not a common choice), or your pets-- make it on the web. If they're good, they go on page two of the print edition. The response, Bentley says, is incredible...even if it meant a dry spell in lunch dates with colleagues who felt threatened. Now they've come around...often to ask questions about the unlikely success of one guerrilla's commitment to make life better for his community.
Giving a voice to the voiceless? Sounds like a good thing to me.
Thanks for reading,