January Update: 2012 Highlights, Classes, Sausage Fest

Happy New Year! We had a great year last year – scroll down to read the reports from our staff, and see our upcoming classes and newsroom cafes. And we have exciting plans for the year ahead. In the months ahead, we will be partnering with at least 25 non-profit organizations to offer media skills training, with a special focus on under-served communities. We’re also going to be expanding our community asset mapping efforts, working with neighborhood organizations and residents to document the businesses and cultural attractions in their neighborhoods. And most importantly, we’ll be developing new ways for Twin Cities residents from every segment of our community to tell their stories, using all the resources of the Daily Planet.

Thanks to a partnership with MELSA, the Metropolitan Library Service Agency, we will be offering media skills classes at branch libraries throughout the metro area – our January classes are listed at the bottom of this message.

Mark your calendars:  The second annual Daily Planet Winter Party and Sausage Fest will be held Wednesday, January 30 at the Summit Brewing Company. The fantastic Brass Messengers will be back, and so will many of the sausage and charcuterie makers who made our 2012 event such a success: The Butcher and the Boar, Clancy’s Meats, Kramarczuk’s, Three Sons Meat Co. (formerly Green Ox), the Modern Cafe, NateDogs, the Sample Room, and two new additions – Corner Table and the Seward Co-op. Tickets are $20 for Daily Planet members, $25 for non-members. If you have made a donation to the Twin Cities Media Alliance in the past year, you qualify, and if not, you can join by making a donation of any size. To register and/or donate, go to our  Sausage Fest Registration Page

Staff reports: 
Bruce JohansenCommunity Engagement Coordinator Bruce Johansen reports: 
This past year was a big one in terms of community engagement. In March, Marcos Lopez-Carlson, Clarence White and I were hired to organize a series of 18 “New Normal 2012: Get Connected!” community meetings. Planned in partnership with area nonprofits, each meeting was designed to attract residents interested in advocating more effectively for change in the areas of education, work, immigration, the environment, healthcare, and transportation. Among the organizations they were introduced to were The Advocates for Human Rights, Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, Envision Minnesota, and District Councils Collaborative.

Our team demonstrated how new media tools can help individuals and groups forge connections, share information, and amplify their message. Meetings took place across the metro area from late May through late October, and drew up to 60 attendees per event. The capstone was a very successful all-day, election-themed Twin Cities Media Alliance 8th Annual Fall Media Forum that attracted some 90 attendees. Media Forum highlights included Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s keynote address, a review of media strategies that contributed to the defeat of two proposed constitutional amendments, and a presentation by photographer Wing Young Huie on engaging communities through the arts. In 2012 we also launched a community asset mapping project with a neighborhood photo walk, and convened a series of election circles that invited citizens to discuss important issues that received minimal play in mainstream media.

Arts Editor Jay Gabler reports:
2012 began a process of transition in our arts coverage, as we aimed to focus even more closely on the Twin Cities’ underserved communities while continuing to provide distinctive perspectives on a wide range of cultural news and events. We inaugurated the Our Scene series, featuring first-person stories by diverse local artists; and welcomed our newest weekly columnist, a talented young African-American artist named Amina Harper. Among our many important news stories this year, reporter Sheila Regan broke the story of executive director Janis Lane-Ewart leaving KFAI and sensitively covered a controversy in the American Indian community about a play at the Minnesota History Center; and Logan Adams looked into the rich history and uncertain future of Cedar-Riverside institution the Viking Bar. In 2013, look for even more news of life and art in the Twin Cities’ many vibrant communities.

Editor Mary Turck reports:
Our education coverage really took off in 2012, with our end-of-year series on testing and special education offering a fine analysis of over-testing in Twin Cities schools and a counterpoint from a principal who believes that tons of tests make his school better. Food — eating, growing, buying, selling — is a favorite topic for Minnesotans, and we covered a lot of bases. Jeremy Iggers highlighted some of the best food writing of the year in TC Foodies: A feast of great food writing. Throughout the year, we pulled together our own writing and other writing of interest in weekly Education News and TC Foodies email newsletters.
Other focus areas for our reporting included health policy issues, the Central Corridor neighborhoods, immigrant communities, the environment, racial and ethnic communities and concerns, youth and — of course — the 2012 elections, especially the Minnesota amendment battles. In all, we published more than a thousand original articles, columns and reviews, as well as republishing more than a thousand articles from community media partners and more than 1500 blog posts. We also published hundreds of community-contributed articles in the Free Speech Zone — some reporting, and lots of opinion and commentary — and in Neighborhood Notes.
We published blogs by well-known community elders, such as Arvonne Fraser and former Governor Arne Carlson, but also articles by high school students writing for ThreeSixty and Free Speech Zone articles by Jay Clark, featuring voices of Hmong and Latino teens in North Minneapolis. We are proud of our success in providing a space for diverse voices in our community, and committed to doing even more in the year ahead.

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