Lynelle Herndon and Noah Kincade have trained a group of 500 Detroit residents, aged 16-75, to watchdog their local government and engage in acts of journalism. These Detroit Documenters (a member of the greater Documenters Network founded by City Bureau) work in conjunction with a collaborative of nine local news organizations led by Outlier Media.

As the program in Detroit grew, Herndon and Kincade realized this group of engaged residents could explore new and creative ways to inform communities and build informational infrastructure on a local level. From riding the bus system for hours to fact-check the city’s notoriously unreliable transportation authority, to sitting through juvenile court hearings to monitor the quality of teenagers’ legal defense, stories too labor-intensive for most newsrooms can now be crowdsourced to the people those newsrooms serve.

Globally, 2024 is expected to be the biggest election year in history, but many people, including most Detroit residents, don’t vote and have checked out of the democratic process. We’ll explore how Documenters in Detroit — and across the United States — are encouraging participation in news and democracy in fun, attractive ways that build a sense of ownership and a true civic asset.

Organised in association with Detroit Documenters.