October 31 2012
The Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service is committed to giving a voice to people making a difference in Milwaukee's inner city neighborhoods. Click the player to hear more about the MNNS.
Sharon McGowan, the editor of the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, started her career at the Chicago Reporter, investigating race and poverty issues. From there, she worked in radio and television news in Chicago and taught Journalism at Northwestern University for 20 years.
Her work with the Zilber Family Foundation and the Zilber Neighborhood Initiative brought her to Milwaukee. "I fell in love with Milwaukee and the people I met." McGowan says. "One of the goals was to try and figure out a way to balance out the reporting about those central city communities."
At the time, most of the news reports from these areas focused on crime, drugs or arrests. There was a need to tell the stories of people striving to make a real difference in neighborhoods like Clarke Square, Layton Blvd West and Lindsey Heights.
The Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service was created to tell these stories about two years ago. McGowan worked closely with Susan Lloyd at the Zilber Neighborhood Initiative, Tony Shields at United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee and Dr. Lori Bergen Dean, of Communications at Marquette University to get the MNNS off the ground.
They started with a part-time staff of two reporters, each with ties to the neighborhoods they cover. Volunteers and interns from both the community and Marquette University also contribute to the content of the MNNS.
Within their first year, the MNNS was awarded The Edward R Murrow Award given by the Radio and Television News Association for "Overall Excellence on the Site". "It was an important validation for what we were doing" says McGowan.
Recently, the MNNS has been awarded the Knight Foundation Grant to help them increase their coverage of local issues like education, safely, and health and wellness. It's a two-year grant that will be matched by the Zilber Foundation and The Greater Milwaukee Foundation. The grant will allow McGowen to hire more reporters to cover more beats and hire a part-time staff member to help them fundraise resulting in the ability to sustain the News Service long-term.
To learn more about Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, click on their website at www.milwaukeenns.org. If you'd like to connect with the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service to volunteer, intern or share a neighborhood news story, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.