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A conversation between readers and the editor of The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Help us make a newspaper - and make history - in the Ben Franklin Project

Today, we're turning to readers for help in collaborating to create a history-making July 4 edition of The Morning Journal through our Ben Franklin Project. Below this introduction, you'll find a first draft of our plan for July 4, and how readers can help us create it.
I've explained the Ben Franklin Project in detail on this blog, but to sum it up:
The Ben Franklin Project reinvents how newspapers are put together and how they relate to their readers. Instead of just receiving a printed paper, readers now are being invited to join us from the start in generating story ideas, gathering information and shaping the edition in print and online to create the most accurate, complete news report placing events in full context. All the traditional standards of journalism are upheld, including accuracy, fairness and objectivity. Also the paper and website will be created using only free tools commonly available on the Internet, rather than the expensive proprietary software that newspapers typically use.
On July 4, The Morning Journal, with the help of readers will declare independence from the fading old ways of newspaper journalism and enter a modern and more informative realm.

Now, here's our plan, created with help from readers who responded to my previous call for story ideas. The July 4 paper will contain more than just these stories, but these are our starting point:

The Morning Journal, Lorain, OH
Franklin Day July 4 story budget, first draft


1. Here comes Wal-Mart, now what? – In a low-key way, Wal-Mart is about to open its first store in Lorain, a town where voters went to the polls to deny the store entry on its first attempt several years ago.  But will job-starved Lorain finally welcome Wal-Mart, or will this strong union town refuse to shop there? What do local merchants see as the fallout for themselves.
Reporter: Rick Payerchin.
Crowdsourcing opportunities:  shoppers, union members, local merchants, the unemployed who might apply for a Wal-Mart job. Send information to

2.  Interview the mayors of Lorain & Elyria.   You are the city hall reporter of the day, what are the top three questions you have for the mayor?  Lorain Mayor Tony Krasienko and Elyria Mayor Bill Grace will answer your questions about their cities.
Coordinators: Debbie Clow & Joanne Allen
Crowdsourcing  opportunities: Soliciting questions from readers online and via Facebook & Twitter, then  have each mayor respond in writing. Send suggested questions for the mayors to

3. Mr. & Ms. Most Interesting. Tell us about the most interesting local man or woman you know and what makes them special.
   Reporter: Kelly Metz
Crowdsourcing opportunities: Asking readers to name the most interesting people they know, and to provide specifics and pictures or videos to illustrate. Send your fascinating people facts and pictures to


1. Role models of success in local business: Find people who are succeeding and prospering in local business, against the overall tide of a bad economy.
Reporter: Scot Allyn
Crowdsourcing opportunities: Ask readers for examples of such people, then ask those people what advice they have for overcoming the odds. Send your suggestions and information to

1. Generations of Lorain Youth Baseball:  Create a multi-generation portrait of Lorain Youth Baseball competition and fun by tracing vignettes about grandfathers, fathers and sons who have played and been involved across the generations as coaches and league officials.
Cordinator: Colin Wilson
Crowdsourcing:  Solicit names and interviews with fathers & sons who can tell of the family tradition of involvement with Lorain Youth Baseball, as well as provide current and past photos, video and other memorabilia. Send names, information, pictures and suggestions to

1. Editorial about the Ben Franklin Project edition and how readers can continue to share in the creation of this community newspaper.

2. Letters to the editor solicited from readers on the theme of “independence” – In what ways should Lorain County, Ohio or the United States strive to become ”independent” of  ways of life, of doing business or practicing politics that currently get in the way of progress, prosperity and peace? Send your letters, including name, home address and phone number to

Historic high school memory book:  Lorain’s two high schools, Admiral King and Southview, are closed and passing into history. Next year, students from both will become the new student body of the city’s lone high school, which has been named Lorain High School. This story would ask graduates of King and Southview from years past to share their favorite vignettes of special times, best friends or inspiring teachers during the nearly half-century that the two schools dominated the local scene.
Reporter: Megan Rozsa
Crowdsourcing:  Asking grads of all ages to share their stories and high school memories across the decades at Admiral King and at Southview, share photos of friends and special teachers and other memorable school events. Submit your information and pictures to

The faces of summer fun: Reader-submitted photos, videos and vignettes sharing their special summer fun events, trips, picnics and special moments to create a community snapshot of summer fun for 2010 in the Lorain area. Submit your information and pictures to

Tom Skoch  
The Morning Journal
1657 Broadway, Lorain OH 44052
440-245-6901, ext. 536


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