What began in 2009 by Laurie Cirivello as an impressive project supported by the nonprofit Grand Rapids Community Media Center (CMC), has since become a full department of the CMC, producing a popular, award-winning local online news source called The Rapidian.
Inspired by the groundswell of increasing citizen journalism throughout the country, Laurie, who served as Executive Director of the CMC and Publisher of The Rapidian until 2013, was passionate about providing a media platform for local citizens. Holly Bechiri, Managing Editor of The Rapidan says, “The CMC responds to growing needs for access to media as media continues to change. As online news became a stronger media platform, it only made sense for the CMC to provide an open and welcoming platform for our local citizens to have access to community media in this format.”
Today, staying true to The Rapidian’s original mission of “Building community engagement through media,” a small dedicated staff and wealth of talented volunteers work diligently to deliver the news online bi-monthly to the Grand Rapids community. Holly explains, “We believe that if we are just providing information which in itself is powerful and important, we’re not reaching our full potential. The goal of news should always be to build an informed and engaged citizenry.”
Along with IT and administration support through the CMC, The Rapidian staff includes:
Holly Bechiri, Rapidian Managing Editor,
Chelsie Wyse, Community Engagement Specialist,
Eric Tank, Place Matters Content Coordinator, and
George Wietor, New Media planner.
Holly elaborates on The Rapidian’s staff, interns, and volunteers, commenting on their commitment and the unique citizen journalism platform. “We’re all passionate about our community, passionate about empowering our local citizens to tell their stories in a manner that not only gets the stories out there but also maintains journalistic integrity. We’re constantly working to help people tell their stories well, and connect our community to the information they need to be involved. For our readers, we provide in-depth, comprehensive coverage of what’s happening in their community. For our writers, we provide a platform available for all voices, providing the mentorship, tools and training available to do it well.”
Genuinely representing the people of Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapidians, and serving as the people’s news platform, The Rapidian is perfectly named. It is recognized as an excellent news source and truly respected for empowering local citizens to speak up and be heard – continually encouraging the community to listen and engage.
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