Grocott's Mail Citizen Journalism Newsroom

The Grocott’s Mail Citizen Journalism Newsroom - opened on 8 September 2009 - is a walk-in community facility where citizens of Grahamstown can produce their own journalistic content (written stories accompanied with photographs, for example), for publication in Grocott’s Mail, in the MyStory section on Grocott’s Mail Online and elsewhere.

View video of learners being trained in citizen journalism
View photo gallery of official launch of the newsroom 
View narrated slideshow of the official launch

It is a component of a project named Iindaba Ziyafika ("The news is coming"), which focuses on developing innovative ways of using new media technologies to facilitiate community journalism, and is funded by a grant from the US-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Location:
Ground floor, Grocott's Mail, 40 High Street, Grahamstown, South Africa.

Equipment:
The Grocott's Mail Citizen Journalism newsroom consists of 10 computers, equipped with four USB data cables (compatible with Nokia, Motorola, Samsung and Sony-Ericsson cellphones), three Bluetooth dongles and three card readers to facilitate the transferal of photos and videos from a variety of cellphones and digital cameras onto the computers. Software available for use includes OpenOffice (word processing), Paint.NET (photo editing) and Internet Explorer / Firefox.

Assistance:
Facilitators are on hand during operating hours to assist members of the public with using the computers – in conjunction with their cellphones – for citizen journalism purposes. Assistance with software (word processsing, photo editing, internet browsing) and hardware (data cables, card readers, Bluetooth) is offered free of charge.

Operating Hours:
10am to 3pm, Monday to Friday. Subject to change.

Cost:
The Grocott's Mail Citizen Journalism Newsroom is a free-of-charge facility for anyone wishing to produce their own citizen journalism. It is not intended for general internet usage - the Grocott's Mail Internet Cafe is available for that purpose. If the facility is full, preference will be given to those who have successfully completed the Grocott's Mail Citizen Journalism course. 

Training:
The Grocott's Mail Citizen Journalism Newsroom is also being used to conduct training courses so that citizens of Grahamstown are better equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary for producing their own content. The first six-week training course - for 40 high-school learners from local township schools - began in August 2009. The course was repeated in late 2009 for other members of the Grahamstown community, who produced a citizen journalism campaign on waste management in Grahamstown.

Elvira van Noort took over from Grocott's Mail online editor Michael Salzwedel as course trainer and ran the third course in February / March 2010, which saw participants focus on employment issues (there are new citizen journalism campaigns every few months). Together with citizen journalism editor Kwanele Butana, van Noort ran the course multiple times in 2010 and they continue to run it in 2011 . Register here for the next Grocott's Mail Citizen Journalism course.

And lastly...

We are excited about the potential that the Grocott’s Mail Citizen Journalism Newsroom holds for encouraging and empowering all citizens of Grahamstown to more actively engage in debates and discussions about important issues in their lives through producing and publishing their own original content. In short, the Grocott's Mail Citizen Journalism Newsroom is intended to foster a keener sense of community awareness, involvement and, ultimately, pride.