Live from MorningSide: 5 storytelling tips from the community
Traditional media outlets have enhanced their community presence, oftentimes these communities have established networks of communication, engagement, and in some cases, content production.
Take MorningSide for example. The neighborhood is home to two podcast studios. One belongs to Jonathan “JG” Galloway of Audio Wave Network and another is housed at the Bethany Lutheran Church which is led by Pastor Christopher Bodley.
Just a few blocks away, Monique Tate, a 25-year resident in the neighborhood, advocates for digital literacy and internet access through the Detroit Community Technology Project and the Equitable Internet Initiative. DIY entrepreneur Trice Clark teaches STEM through arts integration at Arts and Scraps, a longstanding staple on the eastside.
Each of these community members are furthering their local media imprint in a way that is authentically tailored to their neighborhood.
Last Monday, unexpecting library goers, neighborhood newcomers, and long-time community advocates attended “Morningside & The Media”, a community discussion sponsored by Michigan Radio and moderated by MorningSide 48224 podcast producer and trainer Imani Mixon. Jonathan “JG” Galloway, Monique Tate, Pastor Christopher Bodley, and Trice Clark were panelists.
We set out to discover the storytelling gaps that often occur when traditional new outlets touch down in Detroit communities and discussed how residents and community members are often more well-suited to tell their own stories. Here are the top five things we learned:
Canvas the neighborhood to assess their needs
Get out and talk to different people at various levels in the community to figure out what has and hasn’t worked in the past, and ask them what would directly benefit them. “I am more impressed with how media is going - being planted in the community so people are there talking to us and asking us about us, instead of being someplace else talking about us and telling us what we need or what we should have and do,” says Monique Tate.
Provide in-person support
A lot of decisions and promotional opportunities happen online and via social media and email, but nothing beats person-to-person interaction. Participating and volunteering at community events is one of the most tangible ways to invest in a neighborhood and interact with people.
Be aware of information gaps
Decreasing the barriers of entry and participation and modify your original plan accordingly. Many communities have various pathways to share information - newsletters, apps, mailings, etc. Figure out who responds best to each medium and cater your messaging to their existing pathways. “If you’re not computer literate you’re going to miss out, you’re going to get there always too late, as a result it made me think, ‘How are we going to close that gap?’” says Pastor Christopher Bodley.
Uncover the untold story
Many communities have a strained relationship because of past experiences with voyeuristic or extractive reporting. Instead of contributing to an existing story, empower residents to tell a story that has never been told or take a full look at an incomplete story. “I always see the Eastside on the news if something happened at a gas station, it’ always a gas station in the headline and then the story. I would like to see more stories around business owners, people who actually live in the community, about homeowners and how they stayed in the community,” says Trice Clark.
Trust and respect residents
The people who live in the community and reap the benefits or suffer the consequences of being there should be treated as experts of their own experience. “No one can tell your story like you can,” says Jonathan JG Galloway.
The next MorningSide 48224 community event is a podcast listening party, sponsored by Michigan Radio, on September 13 from 6 - 7:30 pm on the rooftop of the historic Alger Theater.