Little did I know, when I posted my last update on what fellow former St. Cloud intern Breanna Roy was up to, that the site she is working on, CrowNews.net, has been involved in a bit of controversy with the other local media outlet. In a nutshell, the publisher of a local newspaper was upset at the establishment of CrowNews.net because he felt that it was going to compete with a community that he already served. You can read Ryan Sholin’s take on it or read the article with the publisher’s complaint in the Missoula Independent.
Breanna was nice enough to let me ask her a few questions and share her thoughts on the whole situation.
How did the Rural News Network choose the Apsaalooke nation for a community news project?
Last year (the first year of the class) the RNN went to Dutton (duttoncc.org). It’s the hometown of Courtney Lowery, one of the class professors. The whole RNN concept was her idea.This year, one of the students–Mary Hudetz–suggested we go to Crow. It’s her hometown and she saw the community’s need for the service. We also have three Crows in the class who are familiar with it.
What was the response like from the local citizens when the project was announced?
Those I talked to thought it would be a good idea. Not everyone in Crow uses the Internet, but some that do said they’d visit the site and would be interested in posting. It was hard to describe the project until we launched the website.
How will CrowNews.net remain sustainable as a news source? Training future generations? Maintaining interest?
This is the challenge. As the RNN, we act as teachers, training the citizens to, eventually control the content by themselves. The next semesters of the class will continue to work with Crow as they have with Dutton. We’ve set up contacts who we hope will be faithful contributors to the site. I think the interest will be there. It’s the first place of its kind for the community to share their events and thoughts.
How does CrowNews.net fit into the overall landscape of the local media scene in the area?
It’s completely different from any other media in the community. The local media scene is the newspapers of outlying towns and the new tribal newspaper. CrowNews.Net provides the community with a place to discus local issues and post stories and news. It gives the community a voice.
In particular, is CrowNews.net in direct competition with Big Horn County News, and, if so, is that a bad thing?
I don’t believe we’re in direct competition with Big Horn County News. I don’t believe we’re in direct competition with anyone. We’re a separate entity, providing a very different service.
What role do you think community journalism sites will play in the future of journalism in small rural areas such as the Apsaalooke nation? In small urban areas such as St. Cloud? In large metropolitan areas such as LA or NY?
I can see community journalism playing a key role in rural, urban and metropolitan areas. I think it’s especially important in places like the Apsaalooke nation who have limited resources for social networking. I think there’s a large desire in our society for community journalism, despite the size of the city. People want to be heard. People want to talk about the news.
What sort of training is involved when working with the community? Do ethical guidelines play a role in this training?
We hope to train community members how to post, in addition to upload photos or even videos. We want to be able to show them how to do anything they want with the site. As journalists, of course ethics play a role. However, we must understand ethics are more forgiving in the case of community journalism. These are opinions and views.