Today we’re excited to announce the launch of the first MuckRock Transparency Corps, a cohort of three journalists, each representing a newsroom, to build key transparency skills, including data analysis and audience engagement while working on a collaborative public records project. These individuals, checking in with each other on a regular basis over a 6-month period, will use public records to surface key issues, stories, and solutions for their communities.
This first cohort will focus on reporting projects related to the impact of COVID-19 on their respective communities over the next six months.
The program leverages MuckRock’s assets ranging from a repository of over 100,000 public records requests; in-depth editorial and investigative experience; and a desire to broaden the community of requesters and those who put public data to use.
It also builds on over a decade of experience serving over 3,000 newsrooms around the country through tools, training, and services, while building strategic partnerships with this group of journalists and their newsrooms that are helping shape the future of community-focused media.
The cohort model allows us to explore what’s available and what’s missing in terms of supporting smaller news organizations, particularly those covering underserved communities and people of color when they’re seeking to take on these types of projects. It also helps us determine how best to support not only the general public, but other types of organizations using public records in their efforts to share information with the communities they serve, including community organizations and academic institutions.
This initiative is designed for smaller news organizations and freelance journalists that have an interest in leveraging public records in their reporting but do not necessarily have the capacity to develop or join larger existing collaborative reporting projects. The journalists looking to participate have a track record of serving their communities and we’re excited to support projects impacting not just those areas, but others across the country.
Members of this cohort will share the lessons and insights about what they’ve learned with their newsrooms and their communities, helping to make public records and transparency less mysterious. They will also share what they learn on MuckRock’s website in the coming months.
The inaugural Transparency Corps members are:
Jackie Serrato is a “barrio journalist” and editor in chief of South Side Weekly, a nonprofit newspaper dedicated to supporting cultural and civic engagement on Chicago’s South Side. She also manages Spanish translation at the Chicago Sun-Times. Her work has appeared in Hoy/Tribune, WTTW, Block Club Chicago, and WBEZ, among others. She was born and raised in the city’s Little Village neighborhood and lives on the South Side.
Efrain Soriano has been involved in local journalism efforts in Chicagoland for the past year, quickly finding a home at Cicero Independiente via their fellowship program. Through it, they were able to grow their photojournalistic and reporting skills, while staying involved with the same community that raised them. Their reporting has recently focused on education and centering the student experience.
Christine Trudeau is the Indigenous Investigative Collective (IIC) managing editor for the Covering Covid-19 in Indian Country project. Trudeau is an enrolled citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and currently serves as Treasurer Executive Board Member on the Native American Journalists Association’s Board of Directors.
Welcome to all of you!