Interview by : Claudio A. Cortés
Have you heard about the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service? If not, then you should, they are an organization making an impact in our communities. Housed in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University, MNNS is a nonprofit news organization that covers Milwaukee’s diverse neighborhoods. I had the pleasure of exchanging some emails with MNNS’ Jimmy Gutierrez to learn a little more about this great organization and conducted a brief 6 question interview.
MKÑ: When did MNNS start?
Jimmy: The seeds for this project were planted last year with the collaboration of three non-profit newsrooms: Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, Wisconsin Watch and Detroit’s Outlier Media. My colleague, Jeff Roman, and I, who are now steering the project, were brought on early this spring.
MKÑ: Why did MNNS start?
Jimmy: I was interested in this project because I have a deep love for my city and I’ve worked with NNS in the past, and I admire the work Wisconsin Watch and Outlier has produced. I was also blown away by the ambition of the project – to get critical and valuable information to people that have been traditionally underserved by media.
MKÑ: Who are you (Jimmy)?
Jimmy: There aren’t many things I’ve know for certain in my life, but helping Milwaukee become it’s best, more equitable self, has always been truth. I grew up all over the Southside, am a product of MPS schools, and have seen all of the untapped potential of this city. I’m coming home for this project because it’s a dream.
MKÑ: What impact have you had thusfar?
Jimmy: We’ve been running the service for a few weeks so far and have already had a few hundred people interact with the service – whether requesting location of food banks and pantries, how to file for unemployment, or how to get a hold of their stimulus checks. We’ve also noticed the trend of a lot of people having issues accessing their unemployment benefits for the past month plus, which has affected their ability to pay their rents or mortgages, as so many people have lost work. We’ll be reporting on these issues to bring more light to the issues people are facing.
MKÑ: What kind of impact would you like to have?
Jimmy: There are a couple of things we’d like to see: 1. Model a different way to interact with community. And what I mean by that is instead of an extractive model, how can voices really be heard and organizations accountable for their work. And 2. Can we invert the model of journalism? instead of editors in a newsroom determining what reporting is relevant to people, residents direct journalists what they should be reporting.
MKÑ: How can people find you?
Jimmy: If you’ve got a phone and a few minutes, you can access the service. All you have to do is text ‘Milwaukee’ to 73224. You don’t need the internet but standard texting rates may apply. You can also contact us through our partnering newsrooms, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service or Wisconsin Watch.
To learn more for yourself, visit their website https://milwaukeenns.org/about-us/ or find them on Twitter @milwaukeenns
To quote world renowned wordsmith Christopher Wallace “If you don’t know, now you know”