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13 December 2011

Bicycle journalists and citizen reporters

A group of  Japanese journalists visiting Grand Rapids last week as part of the Georgetown University Leadership Program supported by Amway Japan found common ground with local media executives.

Paul Keep, managing editor of The Grand Rapids Press | Mlive, and Laurie Cirivello, publisher of the hyperlocal Rapidian site, shared how their respective media outlets have changed the ways they deliver  news and share stories with readers.  And Japanese editors offered ways they, too, are exploring new ways to report the news.  

One way a Japanese newspaper connects with readers is through “bicycle journalists” whose beats are city streets and the people they meet.  It’s similar to how The Rapidian uses citizen reporters to provide close-to-home coverage of people, places and things in Grand Rapids, Amway’s hometown.

The group also had a lively discussion about the future of print editions of newspapers.  While many U.S. newspapers have migrated content online in response to declining  print circulation, the Japanese journalists have a renewed commitment to provide print editions.

That’s because during the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan, broadcast and online news sources were not available due to widespread power outages.  But newspapers were able to produce print editions, which became a critical resource of information following the disaster.

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