Outlier Media’s Documenters program trains and pays Detroiters to attend local public meetings and monitor our elected officials, in collaboration with local journalists. Join the Documenters network to get involved!

We’re building a new public record

The Documenters network was founded by City Bureau in Chicago and includes newsrooms and community organizations committed to participatory civic media around the country. In Detroit, Outlier Media manages the Documenters program.

Each week, Documenters are paid to attend public meetings (like Detroit City Council meetings). They live tweet and take notes on what happens, and those notes are edited by journalists. They’re made available for anyone to read and for journalists to use in their reporting. You can see all Documenters notes here — try searching for an agency or topic you want to know more about.  

Documenters keep an eye on local officials 

Reporters use Documenters’ notes as a resource in their own reporting, shedding light on issues affecting Detroiters and holding public officials accountable. Reporting on the Detroit Land Bank Authority selling homes without water connections, a proposal to spend $7 million in federal funds on ShotSpotter and a trolley service on Belle Isle have all started with Documenters’ first-hand coverage.

Other times, Documenters raise issues that are then directly addressed by the agencies themselves. Over the years we’ve contacted numerous officials to inform them of broken links, missing web pages, incorrect meeting information and even the lack of published City Council minutes online. Some fixes took more time than others, but in every case they’ve resulted in positive change. 

Read reporting spurred by Documenters note taking

Join the Detroit Documenters network

Sign up to become a Documenter! By creating a Documenters account, you’ll immediately be able to register for free workshops and participate in the network-wide Documenters online community. If you’re interested in covering local public meetings, attend one of our regularly scheduled orientations and you’ll be certified to apply for paid assignments.

“The engagement that I’ve witnessed since I started live-tweeting for @DetDocumenters a year and a half ago has grown from 10 public comments during formal session meetings to 50 on average. Not only has the number of participants grown, but they’ve become more experienced and knowledgeable about the legislative process. I’ve certainly grown alongside them.”

– Documenter Kayleigh Lickliter

Stay connected to our community

Want to make sure you get the latest updates on Documenters events, trainings and reporting? Sign up for our newsletter:

The Detroit Documenters newsletter provides a weekly summary of news from recent Documenters’ coverage, while taking a deeper dive with expanded reporting on at least one topic of importance. We also look at questions raised in Documenters’ notes and tweets, and pick one each week to research and answer. 

The newsletter also highlights fun and interesting ways to be civically engaged, get involved in local events, find job opportunities and more. Catch up on recent newsletters here

You can also find us on Twitter: @DetDocumenters. Follow us to catch all of our live meeting coverage and more.

Meet the team

Noah Kincade, Detroit Documenters coordinator

Noah began his career as a sound engineer, mixing live concerts in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the U.S. Now back in his home state of Michigan, he works as a field coordinator for Detroit Documenters, pursuing his interests in journalism and government. Noah lives on Detroit’s Eastside with his partner Melanie and their two feline boys.

Lynelle Herndon, Detroit Documenters coordinator

Lynelle is originally from Washington, DC and moved to Detroit in 2017. She started and runs Home Ec, a neighborhood garden on the westside of Detroit. Lynelle enjoys working as a Detroit Documenter coordinator because she thinks it is important for us to share our news in our voices with our networks.

malak silmi headshot

Malak Silmi, city and county government reporter

Malak is Outlier Media’s Report for America Corps Member covering city and county government. She graduated from Wayne State University with degrees in broadcast journalism and global studies. She previously worked at the San Antonio Express-News as a digital reporter in Texas, but before that was at Outlier Media as an Arabic information needs reporter. 

Media partners

We’ve partnered with a team of local news outlets who not only help edit Documenters notes, but support and promote our program in countless ways. We are forever grateful for their numerous contributions.

Detroit Documenters media partner logos

Contact us

If you are interested in partnering with the Detroit Documenters or have another question, drop us a line at documenters@outliermedia.org.