This will be a game changer for Dallas.
In two months, training will begin for 40 Dallas residents whose mission is to make sure our citizenry has eyes and ears at as many public meetings as possible. This used to be a job for reporters, but the decline of the local news business model has rendered us a city full of crucial government decisions, often with no one paying attention.
That changes in early 2023. Dallas Free Press will be the 10th newsroom in America to host the Documenters Network, which recruits, trains and, most importantly, pays residents for their time spent attending meetings, taking notes to contribute to the public record, and sharing back to their communities. This innovative and award-winning program was birthed in Chicago from the City Bureau newsroom, which, “after hearing their neighbors say one too many times that they didn’t see their issues being covered by traditional media, set out to change the paradigm. They vowed that reporters and newsrooms would partner with residents on newsgathering.”
We’ll be recruiting heavily from South Dallas and West Dallas, the two neighborhoods Dallas Free Press calls home, and we are open to other partnerships, too, especially from communities of color and neighborhoods that historically have been left out of public processes.
We have a big lift ahead of us, and we can’t do it without you.
Here are three ways you can help:
- Donate to support the Dallas Documenters Network.
Our expansive plans for 2023, including bringing Documenters to Dallas, will nearly double our annual budget. For a limited time, a coalition of NewsMatch funders is tripling all donations to Dallas Free Press. That means your donation of $100 = $300, and your new monthly $25 donation = $900. Donate today!
- Become a Documenter.
Perhaps you’re a citizen interested in attending a weekly meeting and demystifying the process of Dallas zoning changes or DART route decisions. Maybe you’re a director or board member of an organization with residents wanting to bring about changes in their community but not quite sure how. Raise your hand.
- Tell us what needs to be documented in Dallas.
Maybe there’s a board, task force or commission that you think deserves more attention. Perhaps there’s a specific problem you’ve identified and you’re not sure who’s in charge of fixing it, but you’d like to get to the bottom of it and find solutions. Either way, let us know.