For the past 36 years I have worked at two jobs that I have loved, spending 22 years as a newspaper reporter and editor and 14 years as a middle school English teacher.
Inside Joplin offers me an opportunity to combine those two and create something that will benefit the Joplin community.
Inside Joplin is a news website and accompanying social media that will cover news in Joplin in a way that it has not been covered before. It will emphasize in-depth coverage of education, government, politics, and the arts.
Three full-time reporters, including me, will cover the city of Joplin, Joplin Schools, Missouri Southern State University and Jasper County.
The educational aspect will come as a result of a training program for aspiring reporters at the college, high school, and middle school levels ,who will have an opportunity to learn the basics of journalism at the same time that they are providing coverage of the schools and community.
Inside Joplin will also provide an outlet for new voices that have not been featured in the area media in the past through regular columns and features. Many of these will be written by some of my top former students, something that makes this project a labor of love for me.
We also want to bring back something that has been lost from the old days of journalism- a focus on community. We want to provide free obituaries, engagements, weddings, and anniversaries, because that is news that is important to the community. At the same time that we are taking a step into the past, we will keep our feet firmly planted in today's technology, offering extensive social media through use of Facebook (including stories updated as they are happening and electronic twon hall meetings), Twitter, and YouTube.
This is a project that has all of us excited, but we need your help to make sure it is done right.
The amount we have specified for this fundraising effort is $5,000. That will enable us to get started and provide a solid product. We are hoping, of course, that we will able to raise more funds. That will enable us to offer training for more young people and to provide more news for the Joplin area, including the type of investigative reporting that has not been seen in the Joplin area for years.
For those who contribute to this campaign, we are offering Inside Joplin t-shirts and signed copies of my three Joplin Tornado books, 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado, Spirit of Hope: The Year After the Joplin Tornado, and Scars from the Tornado: One Year at Joplin East Middle School.
For those who are unable to contribute financially, we still need your help in spreading the word. Let people know that Joplin and the state of Missouri have a new way of looking at the news.
We are proud of Inside Joplin and we want the world to know about it.