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January 2011

Help us find good journalism about politics

Welcome to NewsTrust Baltimore -- we're glad you're here! I'm the local editor for this site, and I'll be using this blog to talk about what's happening on NewsTrust Baltimore.

Each week, we'll be focusing on a different topic that's important to Baltimoreans, but we'll also be covering and talking about all topics and news as it breaks.

For this first week, our focus will be politics, and the timing is perfect; the General Assembly has just kicked off a new session and Gov. Martin O'Malley's annual State of the State speech is Thursday afternoon.

Howard Because politics is such a broad topic, and a popular topic on NewsTrust, we'll also zoom in to the Maryland Legislature. We're fortunate to have a knowledgable guest host for these topics: Howard Libit, a founder of Center Maryland. Center Maryland, a news site dedicated to finding "common ground on common sense policies where we can make progress," is one of our media partners for this NewsTrust pilot project. Howard was a reporter and editor at The Baltimore Sun for 15 years, and I had the pleasure of working with him there when he was the paper's top-ranking news editor.

Howard will be helping point to good journalism about politics in Baltimore and Maryland, and you'll find his thoughtful reviews and picks in the Politics and Maryland Legislature topics, as well as throughout the NewsTrust Baltimore site.

Please help us find the best journalism about politics in this area by posting and reviewing stories and making sure they're tagged with "Baltimore," "Politics" and "Maryland Legislature," where appropriate.

For more info about NewsTrust Baltimore, check out our announcement and our About page.

As always, thanks for your participation -- see you on the site!

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Welcome to NewsTrust Baltimore!

Today, we are pleased to announce the launch of NewsTrust Baltimore, the first local news site from NewsTrust, our nonprofit social news network.

We invite you to join this online experiment, along with other Baltimore residents, to find and share good journalism about your community.


Why NewsTrust Baltimore?
The Internet has radically changed the way we get our news, introducing new problems for cities like Baltimore: Traditional media have reduced their local news coverage, new media startups are struggling to fill in the gaps, and social networks are flooding us with too much unreliable information.

To address these problems, NewsTrust Baltimore aims to feature on a single site the best news coverage in the region, selected from a wide range of local online, print and broadcast outlets. Our online news hub, which is funded by the Open Society Foundations, welcomes all Baltimore citizens to rate and discuss local news stories, in collaboration with NewsTrust editors -- and share the best reporting with each other.

Meet our team
I am delighted to introduce our local team, which will be leading this experiment for the next few months:

Mary Mary Hartney - Local Editor
Mary has been a journalist for nearly a decade, beginning as a newspaper copy editor and most recently serving as director of audience engagement at The Baltimore Sun. She is responsible for updating our site and managing relationships with our media partners. Check out her profile.



Gin Gin Ferrara - Community Manager
Gin has been a media educator since the early 1990’s and is the founder of Wide Angle Youth Media. She is responsible for supporting our online community and managing relationships with our educational partners. Check out her profile.


Our national NewsTrust team has worked hard to develop this site and community relations in the past few months, and will also participate actively in this pilot. They include: managing editor Jon Mitchell; lead engineer Subramanya Sastry; technology director David Fox; and yours truly, executive director Fabrice Florin.  

Meet our partners
For this project, we have partnered with a number of local news organizations, including the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore magazine, The Mark Steiner Show (WEAA-FM), Urbanite Magazine and WYPR-FM, as well as online sites, including Baltimore Brew, Center Maryland, Citybizlist and Baltimore-area Patch sites. These media partners will invite their audiences to participate in this interactive quest, and many will host special activities with us, as well as include NewsTrust feeds and widgets on their sites.

We are also partnering with several local colleges and high schools, including Towson University, the University of Maryland, Morgan State University, the Baltimore Freedom Academy and The Baltimore Civitas School. These educational partners will train their students to rate and curate the news on their own group pages, earning certificates for their work.

Our most important partner of all is the Open Society Foundations, especially its audacious team in Baltimore. We are particularly grateful to Lori McGlinchey, Diana Morris and Debra Rubino for their vision, insights and inspiring support of this project. Besides providing funding for NewsTrust Baltimore, they have participated actively as collaborators, introducing us to their community, and making us feel welcome in Charm City.

Meet our community
This experiment is first and foremost about Baltimore and its community. Already, hundreds of folks have contributed to this project, including local citizens, community leaders, advisors and partners, all of who took the time to share their thoughts with us and participate on our site. You can view some of their portraits on a special slide show we created for this project, Faces of Baltimore, as well as on our members page.

We think this initiative offers a unique opportunity for Baltimore citizens to become better informed and more engaged about local issues -- especially college and high school students. Our service will show them how to tell apart good journalism from misinformation, so they can become more discerning news consumers.

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Join the experiment
We hope you will sign up and participate in this fascinating investigation of our local news ecosystem. With your support, we think this community-based social network can improve the way we get our local news and help us all make more informed decisions as citizens.

Give it a try -- and review a story today. This week, we are reviewing stories on politics -- as Mary explains in her blog post. Our two-month pilot only runs until the end of March 2011, so now is the time to get involved. We will release our first findings in April and give awards to news outlets that are providing high-quality reporting, as determined by our reviewers and editors.

Please join us on NewsTrust Baltimore. See you online!

Fabrice Florin
Founder and Executive Director
NewsTrust Communications

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NewsTrust Baltimore: A local news experiment

Peoplepic_w300NewsTrust Baltimore is an online experiment to improve the way people get their local news, now under development at NewsTrust, with the generous support of the Open Society Foundations and OSI Baltimore.

Our goal for this news literacy project is to help Baltimore residents get better access to good journalism about their community -- and become more discerning news consumers in the process (especially university and high school students).

To that end, we will organize a two-month pilot in Baltimore due to launch next February 2011, based on a local version of the NewsTrust curation platform. Our special website will provide an online "story bank" where Baltimore residents can find good journalism about their area -- and share the best reporting with friends and neighbors.

5230678893_910f323504 During this pilot, a small team of professional editors will lead an online community of citizens, teachers, students, journalists and local experts to evaluate and promote the best local news coverage in their area. Participants will use the NewsTrust review tools to rate news stories based on journalistic qualities such as facts, fairness and context -- and learn to tell apart good journalism from misinformation.

Collectively, we will recommend news and opinions from a wide range of sources: mainstream and independent, commercial and public, national and hyper-local, ethnic or niche blogs -- in print, broadcast or online media. We will also track each source's expertise by topic.

5146596342_d18d9f7a29For this project, we will partner with several local universities and high schools -- as well as some of Baltimore's newspapers, radio and TV stations, bloggers, ethnic and nonprofit organizations. Our local news feeds will be featured on their websites as well, using our widgets.

This news hub and civic engagement network will give citizens a practical way to share good journalism on important issues such as politics, crime, education, justice, poverty, race and youth development. This will help raise public awareness about these issues, and identify informative news sources for each topic we cover.

In the process, we hope to make citizens more aware of their local news ecosystem, help them discover new sources of credible information, and start a discussion on how to improve the way Baltimore residents get their news.

We will post more information on our project page in coming weeks.

 

Support our work

NewsTrust is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people find quality news and information online. Read more about our initiative on our About page. If you are able, please consider a donation today, so we can keep providing more services like these to the public. Thank you!

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About NewsTrust Baltimore

  • NewsTrust Baltimore is a local news experiment that aims to help Baltimore residents find good journalism about their area. Our web review tools let you rate the news based on journalistic quality, not just popularity. We're non-profit, non-partisan, and committed to helping citizens make informed decisions about democracy. More »

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