What is a citizen reporter?
A citizen reporter can be any resident of Wyoming or Kentwood of any age who is open to being a volunteer, interested in their surroundings and willing to share information and stories online for the good of building a better community!
Why be a citizen reporter?
By communicating stories and information online, you are helping to create community-shared media. It’s a modern means of cultivating public interest, knowledge, interpretation and identity through interactive media. By being a volunteer citizen reporter, you can help pioneer the new frontier of a hyper-local news source – boldly going where no local resident has gone before!
How do I get started?
The good news is, you don’t need to be a professional writer to be a citizen reporter; just willing and able to give it a shot. WKTV Writers and Editors are here to help you with topics, story telling, interviewing, posting and picture taking. It’s simply a matter of identifying a topic, doing your research, asking some questions and writing your story down – either on paper or on the computer – and sending it to us. We will follow up by reviewing the submission, perhaps doing some light editing, and posting it to our website. New citizen reporters can view a free writer’s workshop video presented by award-winning author Tom Rademacher to help get the creative juices flowing. There are no tests, just guidance on how to conduct a civic conversation with other residents online. So to get started, contact us!
Our Policies and Guidelines
WyomingNOW / KentwoodNOW is a website designed to provide hyper local news and information pertinent to both cities, reported by the citizens who live there. Our goal is to engage local residents in the exchange of topics of interest at a level not experienced before in this region.
Topics of interest are defined as categories on the website; however, if you don’t see a topic that is of interest to you, you can proposed it to the editorial staff for consideration. In order to provide a welcoming and engaging environment for our visitors and citizen journalists, all published pieces must meet certain editorial standards. These standards pertain to content material that is submitted as stories, pictures, video and audio pieces.
Those interested in having their work published can do so by:
- Submitting the work to the editorial staff for consideration
- Proposing an idea to the editorial staff for consideration and assignment, or
- Become a trained volunteer citizen reporter and owning a topic of interest for regular publishing.
For articles, word count should be no more than 500 words. Online, less is more and pictures captivate. Stories longer than 500 words need to be broken up into a series to be published at another time. Copy content should be written in a Word document unless otherwise specified or requested. Wyoming/KentwoodNOW will accept non-word processed material upon request. Content material is welcomed from all ages, races and demographics living in the cities of Wyoming and Kentwood.
All citizen reporters for Wyoming/KentwoodNOW receive a by-line, bio and photo with their submission. Contributors who prove to be responsible and consistent will be granted access to publish directly to the website but not without prior staff approval.
The deadline for submitted material is two weeks before post date unless otherwise noted.
We will not accept advertorial content in the form of articles or comments.
If you write for us, we expect you to pursue topics with integrity that are accurate and objective. You can help expedite the publishing process by following a few simple guidelines as defined by the Huffington Post:
1. Just the Facts
Stick to what you directly observe when reporting a story – never invent details or embellish facts.
Be stingy with your use of modifiers and adjectives – don’t exaggerate or heighten the details. You’re not writing a novel; you’re reporting an event or situation as it really happened.
Interviews conducted by phone or in person will be an essential part of every story – after all, you’re not writing an essay but reporting on an event.
When quoting people, it is essential to be meticulous and preserve their statements exactly as they were expressed. Don’t add words, clean them up to hide poor grammar or slang. If you are concerned that a quote may embarrass a speaker, then paraphrase their comments without using direct quotes.
It is strictly forbidden to use fictitious quotations, composite people or phantom sources.
2. Avoid Hearsay
Also, be very careful to avoid hearsay in your reporting, no matter how trustworthy the source may be. If someone tells you that their landlord refuses to turn on the heat, you need to make sure that you don’t repeat that information as if it was a fact. You have to emphasize that the interviewee is making that claim either by paraphrasing their comments or through a direct quote.
The responsible reporter will attempt to verify such a claim by talking to the other side. In the above case, interview the landlord (“Do you refuse to turn on the heat in that building?”) to get their side of the story.
Refrain from repeating or quoting someone’s negative comments that are not relevant to the story (“He’s ugly and stupid…”)
If someone tells you negative information about another person that implies illegality, don’t use their comments unless you can verify them with the appropriate law-enforcement agency. In the heat of the moment, people are prone to make all kinds of allegations.
3. Omit Irrelevant Opinion
Again, stick to the facts. Though you may sympathize with the people you are interviewing, do not take a position. An injustice can be remedied by exposing the truth of the situation.
As Justice Louis Brandeis said, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
4. Plagiarism and Giving Credit
Never plagiarize – it is the hallmark of a lazy journalist. Always attribute material when using material from newspapers, Websites, TV, radio, books or other outlets.
5. Spelling and Grammar
Make sure you have checked for spelling and grammatical errors. We’ll check again, but a quick run through for missing words can make a big difference. Be sure to get the spelling of names right.
6. Integrity of Photographs
Just as the writing of a news story demands integrity, the same applies to photos. Never alter or edit a photo so that it could potentially mislead or deceive the reader.
7. Always Identify Yourself
Do not misrepresent yourself when you interact with a source. Before you start quoting them, you should tell them that you are reporting the story for now.wktv.org. Always treat your sources respectfully.
8. Identifying Sources
Make the greatest possible effort to get your sources to go “on the record” – which means that you can use their quotes. But if they don’t want to be quoted, respect their right not to be named.
In extreme circumstances – where the information is vital and the person has a legitimate fear of being named – you can use their quotes and respect their anonymity. But you NEED to verify that arrangement with them: “Can I use your quotes without naming you?” “I won’t name you but can I quote you?” “If I don’t quote you, how can I refer to you?”
There are varying definitions of “off the record” and “on background” but here is the most common interpretation of those terms:
“Off the Record” is generally meant to indicate that the information is provided only for informational purposes and is not meant to be attributed in quotes.
“On Background” is generally meant to indicate that the information can be paraphrased but not in direct quotes and is not to be attributed to a named source.
But since there are varying definitions of these terms, it is vital to first reach an understanding with the source on how they want their comments to be used.
9. Fact-Check Your Sources
As we emphasized before, make sure to fact-check your sources, many of whom may be prone to exaggeration or have an agenda when talking to a reporter.
Always strive to verify any information from sources, either through your own interviews, through trusted news outlets, or through legal documents.
To Be Clear
Although the choice of subject and reporting style is at the discretion of the contributing citizen reporter, Wyoming/Kentwood NOW may limit or remove certain content that violates the integrity of character, individuals, groups or sequence of facts.
Upon submitting content to Wyoming/Kentwood NOW contributors represent and warrant that they have obtained all necessary permissions and rights from third parties to legally distribute the material, including names, quotes and photos. All volunteer contributors agree to accept complete liability for their submission; fully attesting that there is nothing illegal in or about their content and that they alone are responsible for any claims to the contrary.
By submitting content (text, photo, video or audio) to Wyoming/KentwoodNOW, you agree to possible editing by staff writers/editors for spelling, capitalization, punctuation, readability or message consistency. Editing suggestions will be discussed with contributor and revised by the contributor unless they are unavailable for contact or allow the editorial staff to make changes . We reserve the right to contact you for further information and to categorize the material according to our editorial framework. A rule of thumb for any contributor: Content should promote hyper local information valuable to either or both cities, sharing insight that builds stronger communities through an open and positive exchange
Wyoming/KentwoodNOW was established to be a healthy proponent of free speech and information. While self-expression, community discussion and cultural learning is advocated, insults and abusive language is not. Debate and communication should include facts and persuasive writing. (Tips on editorial writing) Insubstantial banter or defamatory remarks do not contribute to the positive communication process we are committed to maintain and strengthen in the two communities. Communication not tolerated or permitted by Wyoming/KentwoodNOW:
• defamation – the expression of injurious, malicious statements about someone
• obscenity – indecency, lewdness or offensiveness in behavior, expression or appearance
• hate speech-bigoted speech, attacking or disparaging a social or ethnic group or a member of such a group
Content that includes such material will be removed or discarded by the authority of the staff. Disagreement need not be synonymous with anger, bitterness, loathing, intolerance or other forms of negativity.
Ownership, Distribution and Licensing
Anyone who submits content agrees to the following licensing policies. All content submitted to Wyoming/KentwoodNOW remains the property of the contributor and is delivered to Wyoming/KentwoodNOW with a non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide license to Wyoming/KentwoodNOW to distribute such content. Unless otherwise indicated, all content on Wyoming/Kentwood NOW is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-NoDerivaties License (https://creativecommmons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/). Redistribution under the terms applicable to the license requires no additional permissions from the creator or Wyoming/KentwoodNOW.
This license allows for noncommercial redistribution as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with proper credit to both the creator (the citizen journalist) and the source (Wyoming/KentwoodNOW). Electronic reprints should provide a link back to Wyoming/KentwoodNOW. Requests for permission to use Wyoming/KentwoodNOW content in any way which does not fully conform to the applicable licenses requires additional permission, which will not be granted without agreement by the content creator/submitter.