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II Kherson Regional MapUp 2016


We are launching II Kherson Regional MapUp 2016, which aims to develop the tourism potential of the Kherson region through editing of Google Maps. 

The competition is held in the period from April 15, 8:00 to 25 April 2016 20:00 during which there will be identified and marked the most active mapmakers, who performed the most amount of Google Maps detail in Kherson region.

To take part in competition - you should live in Ukraine, be 16 years old, and register: https://map-maker-events.appspot.com/SecondKsMapUp/

This is the second regional competition in the region, which is financially supported by local and regional authorities and a number of Ukrainian communities and organizations.

The event is organized by Kherson Regional Charitable Foundation "UNION" in partnership with the Ukrainian community Google MapMaker Ukraine, local Kherson community of Google MapMaker and with the support of the Kherson Regional State Administration, Kherson city council and the assistance program "Territory of Development", implemented by the Center AHALAR with financial support of Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (Michigan, USA), National Endowment For Democracy (Washington, USA) and PDCS, Partners for Democratic Change Slovakia (Bratislava, Slovakia).


Interview with founders of hyperlocal community media iPutney


iPutney - a non-profit news site of Putney city community that in Vermont, USA. We interviewed the team of publishers who for 7 years are successfully engaged in community journalism.

Tell shortly please, when did you create your community media? Did you do it alone? What is your team now?
First I will describe our community.  We are a small town of approximately 2700 people in the state of Vermont, USA.  iPutney was started by two people after hearing from members of the community that there should be a "place" to go to learn about what is happening in town.  What began as a small group of citizens gathering approximately once per month, evolved in to the online forum know as iPutney.  This was approximately twelve years ago.


Did you have some funding at the start of creation? What was the amount of it?
At first we had no sponsors or budget.  When we found that we needed a small budget to assist with technical issues, such as web hosting and troubleshooting, we looked to community non-profit organizations for help.  We have four private educational institutions in our town (unusual for such a small town) and they donated $100-150 each. They remain our only donors.

By the way here are their websites:
  • www.putneyschool.org
  • www.landmark.edu 
  • www.tgs.org
  • www.greenwood.org

Do you have salaries? Is that your only work or it is more like your hobby? 
We are a five person team of volunteers. We do not have salaries.  Again, we are a very small town. It may make sense for you to look at models that more closely match your community demographic (though we enjoy our contact with you and are happy to answer your questions).

iPutney WebSite

What is approximate amount you spent for your media in a month?
We use the Wordpress platform and pay very little. Total costs are about $100 a year for hosting. When we built the site, we spent about $150 in WordPress Theme and plugins.

What are you goals for development of your media?
Good question!  I think the iPutney organizers should get together to discuss this.  We recently changed platforms from "Geeklog" to Wordpress" and have been ironing out some wrinkles (problems) to make our site run smoothly allowing people to submit announcements and stories to the site.  Smooth operation is our current goal.  Another goal may be to update our sponsors' donations.

Does your media earn some money from advertisement or smth else?
No.  The small amount of $ we have from sponsors is put toward site development.

Can you call yourself absolutely independent media?
I believe we can.  

What are the difficulties in your work?
Since we are all volunteer, I think the distribution of workload among volunteers is an issue.  Some volunteers work more on the site than others and we do not want anyone to "burn out" or get tired and leave.  Also, sometimes technical issues arise that are beyond our abilities to manage.  In this case we look for people with more expertise to help.  Sometimes we pay these people a small fee.  Another thing that is difficult is deciding what we DO NOT publish and what our publishing parameters are.

And maybe you could give some advices for those Ukrainians who are going to create their own community media and don’t know what to start from and where to get funding from. 
My advice would be to check out other examples that closely match your own ideas.  Here is an example that is both print and online from the nearby community of Brattleboro, Vermont, USA

TheCommonsOnline - they use, primarily, advertising and independent donations to fund their media operation.  They also have some paid employees.   

Best of luck to you!  

Interviews were conducted under the Project "Fostering Civic Journalism in Ukrainian's Regions", supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The views of the authors do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. government.

Interview with founders of hyperlocal community media iBrattleboro

Lise LePage and Christopher Grotke in Brattleboro, VT, US
Brattleboro - a cozy town in American "Green Mountain State" - Vermont, USA. Today we offer to get acquainted with its community media iBrattleboro, and interviewed their founders.

Tell shortly please, when did you create your community media? Did you do it alone? What is your team now?
Lise LePage and Christopher Grotke started iBrattleboro.com in February of 2003. We act as guides and moderators. The number of people in the community that have signed up to contribute news, events, or opinions is now close to 4,000 people. Brattleboro, Vermont, our town, has a population of 12,000.

Did you have some funding at the start of creation? What was the amount of it?
There was no funding. We customized some open-source software, and spent a small amount of money to buy the domain name.

What is the amount of funding now? Who are the donors?
There is no regular funding. Users of the site make occasional contributions to help cover the costs of running a server, and advertisers pay for advertising space sometimes.
One of the benefits of creating a community-based media site is that it can be very inexpensive to do. The primary cost is the time involved.


Do you have salaries? Is that your only work or it is more like your hobby? 
We build web sites for people as our regular jobs, so iBrattleboro.com is a bit of work and a bit of a hobby. Hobby might not be the best word. The site is more of a service that we provide, and that we like to provide, so that people who live here can share information about the place where they live. Since we live here, too, it benefits us as much as anyone else in the town.
In terms of time spent, it does take a lot of time. We check in to see how things are going throughout the day and night, every day of the year, and every year since 2003. There are submissions to approve, comments to read, new users to approve, and so on. If we want to write anything ourselves to share on iBrattleboro.com, that takes additional time, too.

What is approximate amount you spent for your media in a month?
We pay for a domain name plus server hosting and bandwidth costs. It is hardly anything, compared to running a newspaper.

What are you goals for development of your media?
We hope that people in town continue to use the site to share their news, views, events, and other community information. The more people use it, the better it can be.

Website iBrattleboro

Does your media earn some money from advertisement or smth else?
We do earn a bit from advertising. We offer our own, local ads only. No Google ads or other services that track people are allowed. We don’t allow any ads that blink or move or make sounds. We want the ads to be useful to people in our area who might see them. We like helping businesses and organizations in our area reach our audience of people interested in Brattleboro and southern Vermont.

Can you call yourself absolutely independent media?
I think we can. We receive no government funding, and income isn’t really our goal. Our goal is to help facilitate discussion in our community, and we are extremely broad in the topics and conversations we allow to occur. We are protected in the U.S. by an internet law that says operators of web sites are not responsible for the actions of their site users, and this is very important to the free flow of information. It allows us to “publish” things we might disagree with.

What are the difficulties in your work?
Some people confuse the site, iBrattleboro.com, with those using it. This leads them to take issue with the platform rather than the ideas being expressed.
There is sometimes an issue with using real names or not (we allow pseudonyms). Some people don’t trust “unsigned” work. We find that allowing nicknames has not harmed the quality of the information people provide.
It can take a lot of time, so it is helpful if other people are on the team.
Sometimes there isn’t much going on, and sometimes we can be very, very busy.

And maybe you could give some advices for those Ukrainians who are going to create their own community media and don’t know what to start from and where to get funding from. 
First, we’d say that if you are interested in starting something like this, you should do it.
Think about where you live and what makes that area unique. Try to allow people ways to discuss the things they’d talk about on the street or with friends. 
Use a light touch. Try to follow your contributors rather than lead them. Don’t tell them what to think, but focus on making sure people are well informed. If they have the information, they can make good decisions.

It’s good to have a small team that can share work responsibilities.  Try to have someone who knows how to do programming and build sites, but also have people that are good community facilitators. Share the workload.

For funding, you can find investors, but they may want you to give up some independence. You can apply for grants, but that takes additional time and effort. You can ask individuals for support, find advertisers or sponsors, sell subscriptions, or sell other merchandise related to your media outlet. A gift from a foundation might be a great way to get a project started, but it is important for long-term success to find ways to make it work without relying on outside funds.

It’s best if money isn’t an issue. Try to use free, open-source software and keep your costs down. Try to use volunteers.

Live in the place you are doing this. Don’t try to develop a community media site for a community you don’t live in.

Interviews were conducted under the Project "Fostering Civic Journalism in Ukrainian's Regions", supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The views of the authors do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. government.

What is the financial stability of your media?


The issue of funding is acute for independent local media, so we conduct a survey among media experts of the USA, Europe and Ukraine: how their local media "survive". Let's try to learn from the USA and Europe experience of receiving funding in the context of the Ukrainian realities.

This 3-minute anonymous questionnaire will allow us to understand better the situation of the existence of local media in the US and EU.

A similar questionnaire also pass local media from Ukraine.

Your answers and the answers of your colleagues from Ukraine will help us make a manual on building the financial stability of the hyperlocal media existence in Ukraine.

The survey is conducted by the Fund "Union" within the project "Fostering Civic Journalism in Ukrainian's Regions" with the financial support of NED.

Interview with Stefanie Pearl - Executive Director of Happy Hudson Valley

Stefanie Pearl

Happy Hudson Valley is a community media devoted to the life of Hudson Valley, New York. As Stefanie mentions, its goal was and always will be to shine a light on community – in some ways in response to the negative portrayal traditional media has cast.

Could you please briefly tell when did you create your community media? Did you do it alone? 
I am thrilled that I have been offered this opportunity. I have been wanting since the beginning of this project to share the intel I used to create it with a team somewhere else who can put it to good use! I started the project in 2011 as a basic wordpress site whereby I was the single contributing author. I spent an entire year doing extensive legwork creating partnerships with as many organizations as I could, and covering local stories on a weekly rotating basis that filled my five categories of preferred topics. Kids - LOL (now LOVE - Food - News and Deals. In 2013 I had the site rebuilt with drupal technology so that community members were able to log in and post themselves to the event calendar and even the news category. It was been very successful!


Who is in your team now? 
Still just me and a few intermittent contributors. I also have a social media intern.

Did you have any funding at the start of creation? What was the amount of it?  
There was no start up money for this project at all. The original site was built by friends as a favor. The rebuild costed in the ballpark of 6,500 and I own the IP for the model. It is also available for resale for much less.

What is the amount of funding now? Who are the donors? 
There are no donors -- this is a paid project that was funded via a loan. It has been paid for in advertising dollars and sponsorship.

Hudson River

Do you have salaries? Is that your only work or it is more like your hobby?
There is no salary at this time as it remains a one man show. We were offered a car sponsorship however, so our ride around town has been funded by a generous local business who believes in the positive message we're sharing.

What is an approximate amount you spend for your media in a month? 
Cost per month to operate after the initial build ~ $100/month

What are you goals for development of your media? 
I would love to see the platform adopted across the country, and even internationally. I have a website already parked called HappinessIsTrending.com where I would share all of those sites in the hopes of making this project bigger and largely recognized.

Does your media earn any money from advertisement or smth else?
Yes, money coming in is advertising dollars. You can see there are banner blocks built into the template. That is part of the product as a whole.

Can you call yourself an independent media? 
Yes, independent in content and funding.

What are the difficulties in your work?
The site is largely self-sustaining now that the back end has enabled user content. We screen the information, but more than half is now provided to us in the form of press releases and private contributions.

Interviews were conducted under the Project "Fostering Civic Journalism in Ukrainian's Regions", supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The views of the authors do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. government.

Interview with Deanna Fisher - Publisher of Heights Observer community media

Deanna Fisher

The Heights Observer, a program of FutureHeights, supports an involved, informed citizenry by cultivating citizen journalists and neighborhood news. A not-for-profit, volunteer effort, the Heights Observer serves the cities of Cleveland Heights and University Heights, Ohio. Comprised of a web site and a printed newspaper, it operates independently of any other organization.

Could you please briefly tell when did you create your community media? Did you do it alone? Who is in your team now?
FutureHeights launched the Heights Observer community news project in April 2008. We became the first licensee of Lakewood Observer’s software.

Our staff consists of the following: Publisher, Editor-in-Chief, E-news Editor, 2 Graphic Designers, Business Development




Did you have any funding at the start of creation? What was the amount of it?

Yes we received grant funding from three local foundations totaling $27,500.

What is the amount of funding now? Who are the donors?
We no longer require grant funding for this program. All of its expenses are paid for through paid advertising.


Do you have salaries? Is that your only work or it is more like your hobby? 
All of the staff works part-time on the project. The publisher and e-news editor are paid staff positions. The other positions are contract positions. The business development position is paid 20% commission on advertising sales. That is his only compensation.

What is an approximate amount you spend for your media in a month? 
We spend about $8,736 per month for contractors and printing costs. This amount does not include salaries for the two paid staff positions.

What are you goals for development of your media? 
We will continue to publish 12 print issues per year. The number of pages we print depends on advertising revenue for that month. We have developed 4 advertising slots in our weekly e-news publication; this is an area for growth.


Does your media earn any money from advertisement or something else?
Yes, we earn all of our revenue from paid advertising. Our local merchants appreciate and understand that our readers are local, that the community news project is of and for the community, and that their advertising support not only supports the news project but also other projects that FutureHeights does for the community.

Can you call yourself an independent media? 
Yes

What are the difficulties in your work? 
Working with volunteer writers, editors and delivery personnel.

And maybe you could give some advice for those Ukrainians who are going to start their own community media and don’t know where to start and where to get funding from. 
You will likely need start-up funding from local foundations or individual donors, but you should create a paid advertising program and hire a business development professional to sell ads to local merchants on commission. Let ad sales dictate how many pages you print each month. Our target of ads to editorial content is 40-50%.

Stick to your mission of serving your local community. Stories must be about your local community.

We had a head start because we were an established nonprofit organization that had existing relationships with local merchants, community members (potential volunteers) and local foundations. We also had a staff (of 1.5 at the time) who could devote a portion of their time to developing and staffing the community news project.


Interviews were conducted under the Project "Fostering Civic Journalism in Ukrainian's Regions", supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The views of the authors do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. government.

Interview with Jeffrey Kerekes - Founder & Photographer at I Love New Heaven

Jeffrey Kerekes
I Love New Heaven was launched in 2012 as a collaboration between independent New Haven photographers Jeffrey Kerekes and Chris Randall who share a passion for documenting New Haven, Connecticut. The mission of I LOVE NEW HAVEN is to promote community engagement and civic pride through photographing the people, places and things of New Haven. 

Could you please briefly tell when did you create your community media? Did you do it alone? Who is in your team now?
We started I Love New Heaven in September 2012.  I started it with a neighbor and fellow photographer Chris Randall.  We now have eight active photographers and, small number of former contributors, and have had a lot of contributions from the community at large – perhaps 100+ others.



Did you have any funding at the start of creation? What was the amount of it?
We had no funding from outside sources.  We chose to keep this project as low cost as possible.  We pay for only the domain name.  We chose to host the site on Blogger (a google product) because it was free, relatively easy to use for people unfamiliar with publishing platforms and if we choose to end the project, the site can stay available without continued funding.

What is the amount of funding now? Who are the donors?
We have chosen not to get outside funding and maintain this as a volunteer project.  Pursuing funding would be a full time endeavor and we wanted to focus our efforts on creating content.


Do you have salaries? Is that your only work or it is more like your hobby? 
More of a hobby.  Some of the photographers have found jobs by being positively associated with this project.

What is an approximate amount you spend for your media in a month?
Zero.  We spend about $30USD/year on domain names.

What are you goals for development of your media? 
We want to continue to obtain new visitors to our site.  We additionally desire to cover more underserved areas of our city to be more holistic and inclusive.

Does your media earn any money from advertisement or smth else?
No.  We thought about doing so.  One of our photographers sells calendars, prints and a book all directly related to the project. 

Can you call yourself an independent media?
Yes.  Calling oneself a Photojournalist where we are located is perfectly legal and does not require special credentials, membership, or legal/governmental accreditation.

What are the difficulties in your work? 
We publish five days a week and this is a lot of work for a fully volunteer initiative.  We have difficulties with some photographers posting as promised and with some people being able to complete multiple steps of our publishing process – our website, social media etc…  This requires more follow up on the part of the founders.  Perhaps by having paid staff, we could have higher demands on them for completing these steps.

And maybe you could give some advice for those Ukrainians who are going to start their own community media and don’t know where to start and where to get funding from. 
People doing similar projects around where I am are trying a lot of different options.  Some are doing a print version of their work on a semi regular basis so as to sell advertising space in a printed magazine.  As I mentioned, my colleague is selling prints, calendars and a book.  I am not able to speak to how profitable those initiatives are. 


Interviews were conducted under the Project "Fostering Civic Journalism in Ukrainian's Regions", supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The views of the authors do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. government.

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