What is the Germantown Info Hub?
The Germantown Info Hub is a community journalism project that seeks to share information and stories of and for residents of Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhoods. We are a collaboration between a community advisory group, researchers and student journalists at Temple University and Jefferson University, community outreach specialists and volunteers, and media partners. Over the course of the project we have worked with WHYY, Resolve Philadelphia, Free Press News Voices, G-Town Radio, East Falls Local, and others.
Why did we start?
In late 2017 and early 2018, we conducted a research study asking residents about how they got news and information about their community—what needs they had, and what resources already existed. We also talked about their relationship with local news in the Philadelphia area and concerns they had about how Germantown was represented—and concerns about how it was stigmatized and associated with negative news and crime coverage. We organized a workshop with community members and journalists to brainstorm how to respond to the study. The idea for a neighborhood information hub to share information, convene community discussions, and improve relationships with local news media grew out of this process.
What do we do?
The Info Hub works to promote a cycle of communication involving Germantown community members. This includes creating, sharing, and discussing local news. We do this through weekly outreach including face-to-face tabling where we invite residents to share ideas for stories and issues. We also circulate weekly text messages sharing community events and soliciting input. Ideas from the community are shared with community journalists and media partners, and used to inform monthly community discussions. These discussions explore community issues raised through this process, or invite journalists to come discuss reporting they have been doing about Germantown. We publish occasional multimedia stories online, and hope to expand opportunities for community contributors to share their stories.
Who are we?
Letrell Deshan Crittenden is co-researcher for the Germantown Info Hub and Program Director and Assistant Professor of Communication at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Crittenden has been involved with community media for more than a decade. He has provided citizen journalism training to dozens of high school students and community members in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas. Currently, his work focuses on diversity and inclusion issues impacting news ecosystems in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Central Pennsylvania. His work has earned him fellowships with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, American Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication, and the Media and Inequality Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also serving as the interim president of GTown Radio, a community radio station serving the Germantown neighborhood.
Nichole Currie is a community reporter for the Germantown Info Hub and an adjunct professor at Thomas Jefferson University. She traveled to Philadelphia in 2018 to complete her graduate degree at Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication. She is a committed journalist that loves storytelling through print, radio and film media. Before accepting this position she volunteered with the Info Hub and completed freelance stories with WHYY.
Maleka Fruean is a writer, artist, and mama, and is currently the community organizer for the Germantown Info Hub. She has a BA in Journalism from Temple University, and recently finished an MFA in creative writing at St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn. She has coordinated community events all throughout Philadelphia, and has lived in Germantown for the past 12 years. She loves her neighborhood.
Diana Lu is the Info Hub’s project coordinator. She has spent more than ten years in the nonprofit, public, media, and private sectors working on urban planning issues including community economic development, placemaking, and design-based manufacturing. She is also the food and neighborhood editor for Root Quarterly, a subscription-based print journal of art and ideas in Philadelphia. Diana previously served as the Community Engagement Editor for WHYY’s PlanPhilly and Senior Manager of Strategic Communications for Comcast’s Internet Essentials. She holds a Masters in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design.
Andrea Wenzel is a research coordinator and co-founder of the Germantown Info Hub. She is an assistant professor at Temple University and a fellow with Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism. Her research focuses on initiatives to create more connected and inclusive communities through engaged journalism and solutions journalism. Prior to completing her PhD at USC Annenberg, she spent 15 years as a radio producer at WBEZ and WAMU, and a trainer/project manager for organizations such as BBC Media Action and Internews in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq, and Ghana.
Jeanette Woods is an editorial advisor for the Info Hub.
The Germantown Info Hub Community Advisory Group includes Howard Bailey, Brad Boone, Miles Butler, Tom Casetta, Emaleigh Doley, Lillian Hightower, Christopher van Leeuwen, Melany Nelson, Cornelia Swinson, Charles Sutton, Kathy Sutton, Roslyn Thomas, and Jozette Williams.