Community Journalist
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The Rapidian

Community Journalist

You’ll pitch and write local stories to be published for The Rapidian, a hyperlocal online news source. Writers of all backgrounds and experience levels are welcome. Journalist guidelines will help you frame your story, ask the right questions, and format your story in the way your high school English teacher would love. You’ll have the reins to your own content, plus Rapidian mentors who are available for one-on-one story support and editing. The typical Rapidian story is 400-600 words. Though The Rapidian doesn’t pay for articles, it gives writers great exposure and bylines.

Stories on The Rapidian aren’t simply press releases—they’re an insider’s look at the people and places of Grand Rapids. You’ll be provided with the tools and training and platform and support so that voices from every part of our community are heard.

Some stories are “evergreen” and can be published anytime. For more timely stories, like events, the general timeline is to write an article two weeks ahead of time: one week to write the article and another week for editing.

Free Introduction to Journalism classes are offered at the main Grand Rapids Public Library every few months. The classes are a great intro (or refresher!) for using AP formatting, who to talk to for quotes, how to ask good questions, and more. For Citizen Journalists, there is also a private Facebook group to talk about story ideas, ask questions, or get feedback.

ServeGR note from Heather: We tagged this opportunity with every single passion we’ve got, which is a first for ServeGR. The great thing about volunteering as a Community Journalist is that you can tell the stories that matter to you, whether that’s the arts or LGBT+ rights or abilities or health or women’s issues or anything else. Talk about using your passion!

Show me how to get started
Commitment
One article per month for regular reporters, though you can write more or less as your schedule allows
Requirements
None
Location
Varies by where you like to write and where you need to travel to tell the story

Is This the Right Fit for Me?

You’re one of those people that asks a lot of questions and likes to get to the bottom of things. Maybe you loved your journalism class in school or maybe you’ve never written an article—both are welcome. You’ve got a set of eyes that helps you see a story from a number of angles, and you’ve got the curiosity to follow those paths to tell the whole story. What’s most important is the energy to ask questions, the focus to follow the guidelines, and the curiosity to invite others into what you’re learning about your community ….Or, you know, if you’ve been subconsciously copyediting this post, that’s probably not a bad sign either.

About The Rapidian

The Rapidian is a grassroots department of the Grand Rapids Community Media Center with funding and support from local businesses and citizens. It is a community journalism news source intended to increase the flow of local news and information in the Grand Rapids community and its neighborhoods. By providing tools, training, platforms and support, The Rapidian empowers neighborhood residents to report the news from the inside out, to be content-providers instead of just content-consumers. Stories are shared to therapidian.com, social media (including 7,000+ Facebook followers), an email newsletter, and the Community Media Center’s website.

What Others are Saying

“As a community journalist, I connect with the community through writing. I interned at The Rapidian when I first moved into Grand Rapids. It was a great way to get engaged with what was going on in my new city. I didn't expect to learn journalism as thoroughly as I did in such a short time. It was educational on so many different levels, and it was a great experience. It pushed me out of my comfort zone. In addition to getting published and raising your voice, you have the opportunity to raise the voices of other important players in your community and draw attention to things the mainstream media may not be paying attention to.”

Marie

Contact the Organization

If you’re ready to ask some questions and get started, contact the The Rapidian directly.

Mariah Cowsert Community Outreach Coordinator

What to Expect

Register for an online account, then fill out a request to become a reporter. (You must register an account before requesting. If you run into issues, contact Elizabeth at placematters@therapidian.org.) Then, you can ask for a story or email a pitch, and The Rapidian can help you connect with resources and people to talk to. Along the way, free public workshops are offered (typically in the evening or over the lunch-hour), covering a variety of topics related to telling the stories of our community. Check their website for upcoming dates.