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?
Rasheed Ajamu is a Black fat queer writer, content creator, and servant leader. They are the reporter for the Germantown Info Hub and curates content for the Phreedom Jawn Instagram page. Ajamu is a Germantown native and earned two different degrees from neighborhood school La Salle University, both in Communication. Their accolades include 76 Most Influential Philadelphians from Philly Mag, the Never Delete Your Account award from Billy Penn, and recently, 40 Under Forty from Al Dia.
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.
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..
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.