Jun 24, 2022 - News

Canopy Atlanta to train residents to cover public meetings

Two photos of Canopy Atlanta's team and a Canopy fellow interviewing someone outside
Photos: Dustin Chambers (left) and Billy Ross (right)/Courtesy of Canopy Atlanta

Public meetings that rarely get coverage or community input will now have a set of eyes keeping watch, thanks to a new initiative by community-led journalism nonprofit Canopy Atlanta.

Why it matters: Local and state governments' schedules are packed with hum-drum meetings in hard-to-find rooms where officials craft policy on public safety, property taxes and everyday issues like trash pick-ups.

  • These meetings have a staggering effect on our lives and even during the days of massive newsrooms, coverage of them was rare or non-existent. Transparency breeds accountability.

What's happening: This fall, Canopy Atlanta will launch a local arm of the Documenters Network.

Details: Created by Chicago-based nonprofit City Bureau, the program trains and pays residents to attend meetings and write about what happens, regardless of whether it's minutiae or monumental.

  • The notes will be edited and fact-checked by Canopy Atlanta's staff and uploaded to a public database.

What they're saying: "It's the right time to bring the Documenters Network to metro Atlanta — a place of sometimes-confusing layers of government, where elections impact national outcomes, and where residents are eager to learn more about and serve their communities," Sonam Vashi, Canopy Atlanta co-founder and co-director, said in a statement.

Catch up quick: Founded in 2020, Canopy Atlanta goes into communities to teach residents how to tell their own stories.

  • The nonprofit's team and paid experienced journalists partner with residents to share how to pick story ideas, report and research, and write.

What's next: More details about the launch of this initiative are expected this summer. Sign up for Canopy Atlanta's newsletter to follow along.

Disclosure: Axios Atlanta's Thomas Wheatley has mentored a Canopy Atlanta fellow on a volunteer basis and donated to the nonprofit.

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