Podcast flips script, puts mic in hands of Detroit neighborhood residents

Imani Mixon grew up in this brick house in MorningSide during the early 2000s. Now, she's returned to help residents produce stories about the neighborhood.

There are a few basic steps journalists take when reporting. Pick a newsworthy topic. Track down the facts. And then talk to people out in the community what they think about it.

But what if you flipped that script?

What if, instead of asking the questions, you let people in the community decide what’s worth talking about?

That’s the idea behind “MorningSide 48224,” a community-produced podcast about the neighborhood in northeast Detroit from Bridge Magazine reporting partner Michigan Radio and the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

Detroit-based writer and reporter Imani Mixon is leading the project. She recently joined Michigan Radio’s Stateside show to talk about training residents on how to turn their experiences into compelling audio stories.

Listen to the interview here

“I’ve just been thinking about it as a way to provide resources and access to people who maybe aren’t included in some of the broader media conversations, and empowering them to tell their own story,” Mixon said.

Mixon says residents she’s talked to don’t always feel that news coverage of MorningSide accurately captures the neighborhood or what it’s like to live there.

She says this podcast will be an opportunity for residents to talk back, and craft their own narratives about their neighborhood.

“So this is a challenge like OK, if you don’t like what you’ve seen, what would you like to see? And they’re kind of putting that puzzle piece together,” said Mixon.

Mixon says there aren’t any rules to what the podcast has to be. It could touch on big issues like housing, employment, and development that are being reported on across the city. Or it could just be something fun or interesting that a resident wants to share.

“I had a kid who wants to do a how to create slime DIY podcast. I’m like well, that could be an episode. We can make anything news if it’s happening to you right here,” she said.

Mixon says, ultimately, it’s meant to be a podcast that’s created by MorningSide residents for their neighbors.

“Which I think makes it that much more fun and the possibilities a little more limitless because the people really have the choice to make this whatever they want it to be."

It’s not Mixon’s first time in the neighborhood. She spent several years of her childhood in what she describes as her “first and favorite family home” in MorningSide. Mixon says it has always felt like a very special place — a sort of island of its own.

Mixon hopes this podcast can help residents think about what they want their neighborhood’s unique future to look like — and give them a platform to make their voices heard.

If you’re a MorningSide resident with a story to tell, MorningSide 48224 wants to hear from you! You can email Imani Mixon at: morningside@michiganradio.org. Or call: 313-640-2908.

Get episodes of MorningSide 48224 sent straight to your smartphone or computer. Or subscribe  to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Originally published April 6 on Michigan Radio

About the Detroit Journalism Cooperative

To focus on community life and the city’s future after bankruptcy, five nonprofit media outlets have formed the Detroit Journalism Cooperative (DJC).

The Center for Michigan’s Bridge Magazine is the convening partner for the group, which includes Detroit Public Television (DPTV), Michigan Radio, WDET, Chalkbeat and New Michigan Media, a partnership of ethnic and minority newspapers.

Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation, the DJC partners are reporting about and creating community engagement opportunities relevant to the city’s bankruptcy, recovery and restructuring.


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