Detroiters Work to Document Education Meetings

A Chicago-based civic media organization has been working over the last few months to have Detroiters document important meetings in the city.  City Bureau has trained a group of residents to attend public meetings on education and report on what happened.

Ada Nicole Smith is an education consultant.  Eleanor Catolico is a freelance journalist with a background in education.  Both signed up for the documenters program, which is covering education meetings during its first phase. 

Smith says she heard about the program from a friend and was intrigued.  She says providing important information to Detroit residents can prevent problems in the educational system from festering.

When you think about things that sometimes get people riled up as it relates to education  — school closings or shortage of funds, teacher walkouts over pay”, says Smith, “things that get people riled up.”

If you took the time to educate folks before we got to that point, maybe sometime we won’t get to those points.”

Citizen Detroit and WDET have partnered with Chicago-based City Bureau on the project. 

Documenters will report on a Detroit school board sub-committee meeting Monday evening.

You can follow live tweeting from the meeting at #DetroitDocumenters.

Hit the audio button above to hear an interview with Ada Nicole Smith and Eleanor Catolico about their experiences in the Detroit Documenters program.

Image credit: Jerome Vaughn

This post is a part of Detroit Documenters .

WDET is partnering with City Bureau and CitizenDetroit on a civic journalism project to increase awareness and coverage of public meetings in Detroit. The Documenters pilot trains and pays highly engaged citizens to participate in the newsgathering process and contribute to a new public record for the city.



City Bureau is a nonprofit civic media organization based on the South Side of Chicago. We bring journalists and communities together in a collaborative spirit to produce media that is impactful, equitable, and responsive to the public.




WDET 101.9FM, Detroit’s Public Radio Station, creates and curates a mix of news, music and cultural content that is unique as the city and region we serve. As community service of Wayne State University, we use the power of our broadcast and digital channels to inspire and educate listeners at home and away. WDET is committed to enhancing life in Detroit through independent journalism and meaningful community engagement.




CitizenDetroit educates residents to be fully engaged in the democratic life of the city with reputable information to make informed policy/political decisions. We encourage resident participation in the renaissance of neighborhoods/businesses by establishing and monitoring metrics that measure confidence in city government. CitizenDetroit is comprised of a Policy Lab for impartial analysis, a Civic Exchange event series for facilitated, factual discussions and EngageD for constructive citizen action.




Support for this project comes from the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund, a partnership between the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. The fund seeks to advance quality journalism while reflecting the perspectives of diverse constituencies including people of color, women and low-income communities.

About the Author

Jerome Vaughn

News Director & WDET Host, All Things Considered

Jerome Vaughn joined WDET in 1992 to help chronicle Detroit’s comeback and let people around the world know the truth about his hometown.   Follow @jvdet

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