Locally Grown to be host for Representative Journalism test project

Locally Grown has been chosen to test an innovative project called Representative Journalism, led by Communication Chair and Associate Professor Leonard Witt and colleagues at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. See Len’s blog post for details, as well as this press release (PDF).

RepJ-pr-sshot hff_logo_big

Over half of the $51,000 grant from the Harnisch Family Foundation will flow to Northfield. Ross, Tracy and I will be paid for our time on the project. The Representative Journalism (RepJ) project will contract with a professional journalist who will be based locally. And money’s allocated to experiment with different ways to make the project financially sustainable.

Project staff will be visiting Northfield in the next few weeks to conduct interviews and help us get launched.

There’s lots to discuss about how all this is going to work so fire away with comments. As you’ll soon see, we have some stuff figured out but we expect to making a LOT of it up as we go, primarily based on input from you, our readers, listeners, and fellow citizens.


  1. Nick Benson said:

    Oh boy! How much is allocated to those of us who contribute comments on a regular basis?

    February 21, 2008
  2. Ross Currier said:

    Two cents worth?


    February 21, 2008
  3. John S. Thomas said:

    That’s kind of a harsh, flippant response Ross. 😎

    LoGoNo would a be meaningless rant without its contributors.

    If we are only worth two cents, I will be down to pick up my final check, and be done with this. 😎

    I know you are kidding… two smilies. I’m only poking at you.

    February 21, 2008
  4. Ross Currier said:


    When I offer my two cents worth, I figure that it’s an accurate valuation. Certainly some people even seem to question the second penny. I truly consider yours to be just as valuable.



    February 21, 2008
  5. Curt Benson said:

    OK, I clicked on Leonard Witt’s name above and what did I see? Another guy in a bike helmet. What is it with blogging and bike helmets? Did you guys wear them in your high school graduation photos and at your weddings? Do you sleep in them or only put them on whenever you see a camera?


    Curt (presently not wearing a bike helmet because I am not riding a bike at this moment)

    February 21, 2008
  6. This is your most elaborate faux news yet, Griff! (emoticon smile)

    February 21, 2008
  7. Christine Stanton said:

    And we look to the web for “information”…? I took me awhile to catch on that this one was a “hoax.” Hmm… Even Mr. Outdoor Enthusiast–Griff–must have cabin fever! Thanks for the entertainment. 🙂

    February 21, 2008
  8. Nick Benson said:

    I’d bet my $0.02 that this isn’t faux… those links look pretty legit to me.

    February 21, 2008
  9. John S. Thomas said:

    First off, congratulations on this grant. It seems that it is a wonderful opportunity for LoGroNo.

    However, this is somewhat like a young athlete taking money or other incentives.

    Once paid, all of you lose the “amateur” status, and become professionals. 😎

    Also, this brings back into the play the discussion that we had regarding “citizen blogger” -vs- “citizen journalist” and the responsibilities that that caries. (see https://locallygrownnorthfield.org/archives/1935/ )

    I say that, because of this line on http://pjnet.org/representativejournalism/post/21/

    Peck has agreed to share some of his time to be the editorial traffic cop to ensure that from the beginning this project produces high quality, ethically sound journalism.

    This sounds like the “Citizen blogger” tag is falling away, in lieu of a new type of hybrid media reporter, that is part journalist, part blogger, part podcaster, part radio star. It will be interesting to see what other media LoGroNo will move into. Print? Local Cable Access Television? Much could be done with that grant money.

    Again, I think this is a wonderful opportunity, and the fact Mr. Bill Densmore, and Mr. Chis Peck, will be joining you is a great step forward.

    Congratulations again, I am looking forward to seeing where this goes.

    February 22, 2008
  10. Griff Wigley said:

    Sue/Christine, I assure you, this is the real deal, not faux news, despite the professor in the bike helmet photo. Feel free to give professor Witt a phone call!

    February 22, 2008
  11. Griff Wigley said:

    John T, the triumvirate will continue with our citizen blogger/podcaster hats on. The RepJ folks won’t be supervising our blogging or trying to change what we normally do.

    Their focus will be entirely on the professional journalist that they will hire. We anticipate that that reporter will practice what’s called ‘collaborative journalism’ or ‘networked journalism’ — and that’s where we and you, the citizens, come in.

    February 22, 2008
  12. Ross Currier said:

    John T. –

    We had at least two beers…er…ah…discussions about it before we agreed to it.

    We anticipate some creative tension between the citizen bloggers and the professional journalists. But hey, that’s what Locally Grown has been about since the very beginning.

    – Ross

    February 22, 2008
  13. Re “Feel Free to give Professor Witt a phone call” from Griff. This is great! You have even enlisted someone out of state to help perpetuate your faux news! Someone who will play along with the prank. Or is it called “punk”? It gets better and better! (Remember the boy who cried wolf? Now we will never believe you until you send us all our checks for two cents for participating.)

    February 22, 2008
  14. Anne Bretts said:

    The business reporter at the Rochester Post-Bulletin moves easily through his roles as a blogger and reporter, and he is the most networked and connected guy in town. The tone of writing differs, and the blog allows for some speculation and lots more comments from readers, but it all works to expand journalism, not blow it up. Of course, there is no recession in Rochester, so the business beat is the busiest one at the paper.
    And you are coming from the other direction, blending journalism into the mix. The tensions will be real, and interesting to watch, but well worth it.
    Congratulations on this wonderful opportunity.

    February 22, 2008
  15. John S. Thomas said:

    I too am interested to see how this is going to work, and look forward to the opportunity to participate.

    If our opinions are worth $0.02, and you were counting posts the other month, when can we anticipate a full accounting and our checks? 😎

    That should be really close to enough for a cup of coffee!

    February 22, 2008
  16. Bill Ostrem said:

    Congratulations, Locally Grown, on this well-earned reward! I look forward to seeing how this budding media conglomerate will grow. If I see Rupert Murdoch in town, I’ll know who he’s meeting for lunch. (Or having for lunch?)

    I looked at Mr. Witt’s bio and was impressed. He has some Minnesota connections too.

    Griff, do you wear a motorcycle helmet? If so, why not join the helmeted crew, at least occasionally?

    As another blogger, I have one question: Will your Creative Commons license change? Is that an issue you’ll have to look at?

    February 22, 2008
  17. Jane McWilliams said:

    My reaction to this news was like yours John – that the character of Locally Grown was going to change – and I was a bit skeptical.

    As you say, Griff, you’ll be making it up as you go along – so it will be enticing to see what that change will be. You also said: “We anticipate that that reporter will practice what’s called ‘collaborative journalism’ or ‘networked journalism’ — and that’s where we and you, the citizens, come in.”

    Can’t wait to see what that’s all about. This is an evolving medium – and that’s what makes it exciting.


    February 22, 2008
  18. Gilly Wigley said:

    It’ll be interesting to see how the other news resources in town react to this… 😀

    February 22, 2008
  19. Nick Benson said:

    There are other news sources in town?

    February 22, 2008
  20. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks for the congrats everyone.

    Bill, as far as I know, LG won’t own any rights to the content posted here by the RepJ reporter. I expect that the reporter and the RepJ project itself probably will, tho.

    Jane, one of Len’s colleagues, Donica Mensing, blogged journalism ‘terms’ about a month ago. It’s a good summary, with links to ‘collaborative journalism’ and ‘networked journalism.’ Her blog post:

    What’s in a name?

    February 23, 2008
  21. It’s the first time one of my grants has been considered “faux,” although some have been greeted with “You’ve GOT to be kidding.”
    To those who are skeptical (and you have plenty of company in the journalism world), I say: It’s an experiment. You’re the first. You won’t be the last.

    (I’m currently looking for a RepJ to cover the field of professional coaching for http://www.coachingcommons.org FYI)

    Thanks to all who are participating!

    February 25, 2008
  22. Griff Wigley said:

    Hi Ruth Ann! Quite the treat to have the head of the Harnisch Family Foundation to add a comment here. Since the foundation’s website is under construction, I’ll link to your bio page on the Thrillionaire’s site in case people want to know more about you.

    I found out today that the RepJ trio (Len, Chris and Bill) are visting Northfield for several days in mid-March. I hope we can entice you to visit at some point, tho maybe when it’s warmer and greener.

    February 25, 2008
  23. Griff Wigley said:

    David Cohn referenced RepJ in his DigiDave blog today in a piece titled “Free” and Future Business Models of Journalism.

    I picture a micro-funding model, where content is paid by small donations from lots of people. These afford a journalist the ability to investigate issues important to the collective: Think Digg meets eBay for journalists. With the issue of money aside – advertising isn’t needed and the content itself is licensed under the Creative Commons and given away for free. It’s similar to Leonard Witt’s Representative Journalism or Michale Stoll’s Public Press.

    Pro-Publica is not the future of journalisms business model – that’s just the future of one rich-ass family’s endowment. Journalism belongs to the people.

    February 26, 2008
  24. Bill Ostrem said:

    What do you think of MinnPost.com and its non-profit journalism model? My understanding is that a lot of former Twin Cities print journalists are working for this site, and that its funding involves donations. This model seems to be something like public TV/radio but without govt. support.

    I recently read some good articles there about the transportation funding bill.

    See the “About” page at MinnPost.com for more. Here is quote from it: “Our goal is to create a sustainable business model for this kind of journalism, supported by corporate sponsors, advertisers, and members who make annual donations.”


    February 27, 2008
  25. Bill Ostrem said:

    I should have said “a lot of former newspaper journalists are working for this site,” since they are still journalists now.

    February 27, 2008
  26. Griff Wigley said:

    Bill, I see MinnPost.com as regional Slate.com (opinionated journalism) with, as you indicated, an MPR-type funding structure (memberships, sponsorships, and online banner ads).

    The journalists don’t practice ‘collaborative journalism’ as far as I can tell. Nor do they seem to interact much with their readers once a piece has been published. Hopefully, the RepJ journalist will do both.

    February 27, 2008

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