Sharon McGowan knows a little something about news. She’s been in the business for over 20 years. I was astounded by her gleaning list of credentials when Dr. Lori Bergen, dean of the College of Communication at Marquette University, introduced her to community members in Johnston Hall’s jPad last Friday during Marquette’s mission week. It’s no wonder the College of Comm. collaborated with McGowan and the United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee (UNCOM) to form the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service (NNS) last year.
“It’s such a unique partnership, I don’t think there’s another partnership like this in the country,” Bergen said.
NNS is a multimedia website that covers areas surrounding Milwaukee that tend to be overlooked by major news publications. The Zilber Foundation funds NNS through a grant and aims to improve the quality of life in the five neighborhoods it currently serves. The three pilot neighborhoods include: Clarke Square, Lindsay Heights and Layton Boulevard West (which includes three communities).
These neighborhoods are facing challenges in education, safety and urban living. But more importantly, they have leadership within their communities that will hopefully contribute to their revival.
“We have found no shortage of things to report on,” McGowan said. NNS is currently staffed with part-time workers, volunteers and student interns. ”When people start working with us they say, ‘Wow, this is really fun,’” McGowan said. “We have this little growing community.”
Since launching last March, NNS has posted over 1,000 times. The website is undergoing minor construction to make room for additional community coverage. But don’t worry. They won’t abandon their orange and blue color scheme–the staff loves their look.
Given the positive reaction from community members attending McGowan’s presentation, it’s clear they love it too. Hopefully this number and more will attend NNS’s one-year Tweet and Toast anniversary party on March 22. The live-tweeting event begins at 5 p.m. in the jPad.