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“Boomer Bloggers” To Cover Maine News

PHOTO: Media Tools  Photo credit: Mark Scheerer
PHOTO: Media Tools Photo credit: Mark Scheerer
September 10, 2012

ELLSWORTH, Maine - Move over, Drudge and Huffington. The "Woodward and Bernstein" generation is going to be using blogs and social media tools to report the news - news by and about Maine baby boomers. It's called the Maine Boomer Reporting Corps.

Thanks to a matching grant from the Knight Foundation, seniors from rural communities are going to receive training ranging from "journalism 101" to photo and video newsgathering and social-media skills. That will be done at the University of Maine's Center on Aging, where Carol Hammond says the trend in hyper-local news blogging should not be off-limits to older folks who did not grow up as so-called "digital natives."

"It is a myth that older people don't know how to use technology. It's just a question of being introduced to it in a way that's relevant to their lives."

The $52,000 in matching funds comes from the Knight Community Information Challenge. Its directors say out of the 20 winning proposals, the Boomer Reporting Corps stood out as the only one addressing the informational needs of that age group.

Trabian Shorters of the Knight Foundation says it makes sense to him that older Mainers should get into the news business.

"It turns out that boomers are actually - compared to the general public - pretty voracious consumers of news. But what was exciting to us about this proposal was it was the boomers actually doing the news coverage about issues that matter to their generation."

Dr. Lelia DeAndrade of the Maine Community Foundation helped secure the grant. She says the "citizen journalists" will use both new and old media.

"This is a group of people who are incredibly passionate about their communities, and they will go knocking on the doors of the editors of the newspapers in their small towns and cities to make sure that their articles get in the paper."

Hammond says the initial "boomer bloggers" are going to come from members of a group overseen by the University of Maine Center on Aging.

"People over 50 who are already members of Encore Leadership Corps are now going to be not only getting training and skill-building around the concept of citizen journalism, but they're going to actually go out and try to find news stories."

The University of Maine New Media Department is to provide training, along with input from expert media consultants and advisers.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - ME