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Older Mainers find new role as citizen journalists after joining Boomer Reporting Corps

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ORONO - The Boomer Reporting Corps, a program offered by the University of Maine Center on Aging and Maine Community Foundation, aims to create a group of older adults who can actively report on local issues to benefit their communities.

The program began in Sept. 2012 as an extension of the UMaine Center on Aging’s Encore Leadership Corps. ENCorps is a statewide program that provides skill-building workshops, educational resources and networking opportunities to adults who are at least 50 years old and volunteer in their communities, according to Jennifer Crittenden, fiscal and administrative officer of the UMaine Center on Aging.

The UMaine New Media Department is also a project partner, and UMaine Senior Lecturer in New Media Bill Kuykendall is the program’s lead faculty member.

Now 14 members strong, the Boomer Reporting Corps members have participated in a series of six five-hour educational workshops and prepared multimedia projects ranging from a feature on a Tai Chi instructor with a rough past to histories of their hometowns.

With funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Maine Community Foundation and The Atlantic Philanthropies, the workshop series was established, culminating with the ENCorps summit in June where participants presented their work.

The workshops in Augusta, Orono and Belfast focused on reporting and storytelling, technology, photography and social media. Kuykendall led the workshops, while several community members volunteered as guest lecturers.

“Our goal was not to create a cohort of citizen journalists who would be working in opposition to the local media, but rather a cohort that could work with the local media,” Kuykendall said. “It would give boomer reporters an outlet for their work and would give the local media more high-quality content.”

Kuykendall says another aim of the program is to preserve the health of traditional news reporting.

“It’s getting harder and harder to cover the news. There aren’t as many reporters at newspapers. The younger reporters who are there may not have the experience to cover a complex issue,” Kuykendall said.

Anyone interested in becoming a member of ENCorps can apply online (encoreleaders.org/membership/apply) or contact Mia Noyes at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or (207) 262-7931. Application process and membership are free. Tutorials of the Boomer Reporting Corps workshops can be found online (boomerreportingcorps.org/brc-tutorials).

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