Milwaukee is home to some of the nation’s starkest racial disparities in health, education, and economic well being. Yet, too often, the mostly African American and Latinx residents of our central city lack easy access to information that is relevant to them or journalism that amplifies their voices and accurately portrays their communities. Traditional news media have long reported about the neighborhoods we serve, instead of for them — failing to give context to the perspectives of residents or to deeply examine the systemic racism and other forces that shape life each day.
News414 employs a form of service journalism. That means we:
- Use technology and community partners to meet people where they are
- Identify information needs by asking community members
- Build trust through one-on-one engagement that gives, rather than extracts information
- Hold power to account through investigative reporting that reveals the systemic flaws that underlie food insecurity, housing challenges and other disparities and injustices.
News414 puts prioritizes residents’ needs above the needs of each story. As disinformation online continues to grow, the need for truthful and reliable information is more important than ever.
Critical Community Issues
News414 has surveyed residents and community partners to identify high-demand topics of information, including:
- Food resources
- Mental health & domestic violence
- Civic engagement
- Health and Safety (especially COVID-19)
News414 intentionally uses text messaging as the primary news dissemination method because of its broad and inclusive reach. While many central city residents may lack internet access, most have access to a mobile phone and can receive texts. Texting also allows residents to START the relationship (by texting MKE to 73224) to request specific information around any of our five main information categories. As subscribers, residents may receive up to four text messages a month, or more, depending on the information they share or request.
Journalists from Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service(NNS) and Wisconsin Watch monitor incoming texts, and after initial chatbot-driven interactions, users can ask to speak directly with a journalist. Conversations between News414 journalists and subscribers drive our investigative reporting published by NNS, Wisconsin Watch and other news outlets. You can find links to our community-driven investigative pieces here.
Highlighting Community Voices
Working with our subscribers, community-based organizations, schools, churches and others operating in our target neighborhoods, we hope News414 helps NNS amplify the voices of local leaders and residents through stories that highlight the challenges community members face — as well as their accomplishments and community-grown solutions