For the past seven years, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service (NNS) has been reporting on under-represented, low-income, minority neighborhoods in Milwaukee's central city.
The organization's mission is to change negative perceptions of these neighborhoods—which are often perpetuated by traditional media coverage related to crime and drugs—by providing a more balanced picture. NNS tells stories of people and organizations working hard to improve the quality of life for themselves and their neighbors, in some of the most challenged communities in the country.
NNS doesn’t shy away from covering these challenges. Its in-depth reporting includes pieces on topics such as sex trafficking, opioid use, prostitution, mass incarceration and reckless driving.
The organization also recently won some awards, including the RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Regional Award and gold Milwaukee Press Club award for “Last Call: Neighborhood taverns fading out on Milwaukee’s South Side,” by Edgar Mendez. It also won a RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Regional Award for a series of stories about lead in Milwaukee’s drinking water by Jabril Faraj and an award from the Milwaukee Press Club for “Teetering on the brink: Barriers to reproductive health care access,” by Naomi Waxman.
Upcoming investigations include articles based on the Milwaukee Police Department’s database of response times, and continuing coverage of lead poisoning resulting from lead in the pipes connecting to the city’s water supply.
An online news organization, NNS published its first print publication, “The Long March to Freedom,” last year, based on reporting marking the 50th anniversary of 200 consecutive marches for open housing in 1967 and 1968. The 32-page illustrated booklet includes comprehensive articles written by the NNS professional staff, as well as profiles and videos of the marchers reported by journalism students at Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University. The marchers, who were members of the NAACP Youth Council, described their experiences encountering hostile white crowds as they fought for open housing legislation in Milwaukee.
NNS has distributed more than 7,500 free copies of the booklet, starting on Jan. 15, Dr. Martin Luther King Day, to community members and fair housing organizations throughout the country.
The newsroom has a small staff of four part-time reporters, two web/social media directors and a full-time editor, plus 10-12 reporting and social media interns each year.
“The organization is a proud member of INN, and are pleased to have our content shared with other members through INN’s Amplify program,” said Sharon McGowan, editor at MNNS. “We're also excited to be part of the recent Associated Press project and look forward to widening our readership with INN's help.”