To further expand our continued effort to make public meetings more transparent and accessible, Fresnoland is partnering with City Bureau, a Chicago-based civic journalism lab — and we plan to train, pay and deploy a third cohort of local Documenters this fall.
“Public meetings are workshops of democracy, where residents of every American community can witness, learn about and act on the systems that impact their lives,” said Darryl Holliday, City Bureau co-founder and News Lab director.
City Bureau and network colleagues in Cleveland, Detroit and Minneapolis have been training and paying members of the public to document public governance meetings since 2016.
Building on their success, the Fresnoland Documenters program welcomed its first cohort in 2020. Since then, local residents have covered nearly 500 public meetings spanning Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare Counties.
“Most newsrooms, including ours, don’t have enough resources to cover every single public meeting,” said Danielle Bergstrom, Fresnoland founder and executive director. “So a lot of really important information doesn’t get enough sunlight by the public and the Documenters fill that critical gap.”
Fresnoland is now accepting applications for a third cohort of Documenters, which will launch this fall, in partnership with the City Bureau. Information sessions will begin in August 2022 and those interested should submit an application to join the interest list.
Documenters are paid to take notes or live-tweet public meetings, which are then posted at Fresnoland.org and Documenters.org for all to read and share.
Fresnoland journalists and other media organizations use the information they produce to keep local government responsive and help people organize for solutions to civic issues.
Joining the Documenters Network will also allow us to standardize and share information on local public meetings — all in one central location on our sites.
The Fresnoland Documenters program is made possible with support from the James B. McClatchy Foundation and The James Irvine Foundation.
For more information, check out this informational video on the Documenters Network.