Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Participate in reporting on the 4th

We're opening up our Independence Day coverage this year to readers.
On July 4, we will publish an edition of the newspaper produced with free online tools. The paper will still be printed on our press and some pages by necessity will be prepared with our standard operating systems. But for the most part, we will use new tools and different practices to declare our independence from the past and establish our newspaper and our parent company Journal Register as innovators.
This experiment is called The Ben Franklin Project and is the reason for the likenesses of dear Ben cropping up in the pages of the paper and on our website.
But, what does that mean to you?
Well, here's the deal: We are also using this project to begin a transformation of our reporting -- reporting that involves the audience in the creation of stories, not just in reaction.
Consider it participation theater: We invite you to come on stage and bring your insights and creativity into our production while it's still playing, not after we've finished.
You have likely seen our projects and our invitations on First Suburbs, road rage, and protests of the BP oil spill asking for readers' involvement.
And now there's the Independence Day story we're working on. The coverage of Pottstown's July 4th celebration is always front and center in our reporting on Independence Day. It's always the best story in town.
What's different this year is that we are reporting on how you celebrate Independence Day in your own eyes, not just how we see you celebrating.
We want your reflections on what independence on this day means to you -- tell us your patriotic philosophy or your rebellious protest or share a favorite family memory.
What do you think about independence? How do you celebrate it?
In addition to the pictures and video our staff captures each year, we want to include what you have taken with your cameras and smart phones. Send us pictures of past July 4th celebrations, your kids and pets in patriotic gear, the best picnic food you've ever made, your favorite parade or fireworks shot, your Little Leaguer's winning catch.
(You can see my personal favorite from the 2008 parade right here!)
We're accepting pictures and reflections now and will print them leading up to the Fourth, as well as on the Fourth. Some will be included in print editions; all will be shared online.
Get your cameras out on July 2 for the hot-air balloon extravaganza and on July 3 for the 5K race and the parade.
Look around town and share with us what the Fourth festivities look like to you.
We'll be here Saturday afternoon and evening July 3 and if you get pictures to us from that morning's parade, we'll use 'em.
We'll also be livestreaming parade coverage Saturday July 3, so if you can't get out to High Street, you can watch some of the parade and hear what people are saying about it online.
July 4th is a day of many traditions in Pottstown. This year we're starting a few new ones. Please join us in the fun.

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