Jennifer Brandel wanted to know: what would happen if the public was brought in to the editorial process? As an independent producer and reporter at WBEZ in Chicago, the question had weighed on her, and in 2012 she founded Curious City through an initiative with the Association of Independents in Radio (AIR).
Sarah Alvarez launched Outlier Media in 2017 to serve the needs of low-income news consumers in Detroit. Using SMS and Facebook messenger, Detroit residents can input any address in the city and receive free rental information about the home, including its most recent inspection data, any back taxes owed, and the name of the owner.
In 2016, Chicago-based civic journalism lab City Bureau started its Documenters program, which pays and equips community members to document public meetings and civic events in the city. As the program grew, they teamed up with ProPublica Illinois and volunteer coders to “scrape” the web for public meeting listings and populate an events calendar usable by journalists and citizens alike.