Our Mission

The vast majority of governmental meetings receive no media coverage and produce minimal records. At the same time, many news consumers feel alienated from media, but are eager to play a role in fixing it.

The Documenters Program improves oversight by tapping into this public desire to participate in civic reform. We know there is public interest from experience: to date, over 350 people have enrolled in the Documenters program.

Together, we aim to reinvigorate notions of citizenship by using journalism to empower storytellers; employing civic tech to illuminate civic processes; distributing democratized trainings to provide structure around journalistic production; and instituting an hourly wage to value each citizen’s time and efforts. The Documenters Program provides practical, actionable solutions for civic disengagement, news literacy deficits and public distrust of news media and civic processes.


Our Values

  • Collaboration: Documenters work together for the public good, in the public interest.

  • intergenerational learning: Documenters of all ages receive training on a range of disaggregated journalistic skills to inform the public by building a new public record.

  • Civic Engagement: Documenters identify, address and share issues of local concern.

  • Journalistic self-expression: Documenters create space for the expression of feelings, thoughts and ideas through storytelling, media and journalism.


From the Documenters Blog

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The Profound History of Public Hearings and Why We’re Devoted to Documenting Them

A look back at the origins of civic participation in the U.S. and how City Bureau’s Documenters program is testing a new mode for civic engagement


Community-Building With a Purpose: Our First Documenters Summit

City Bureau‘s March 10 event allowed #ChiDocumenters to collaborate with each other and give input on our groundbreaking program. Here’s how we did it.


How Did City Bureau’s Documenters Program Get Started?

One weird trick to get people to document and record public events for the greater good: Pay them! Here, we honor the origins of our fastest-growing program and look at the way forward.

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Investing in Our Documenters = Investing in Our Community

On June 22, City Bureau was awarded a $50,000 prototype grant from Democracy Fund and the Knight Foundation — here’s what we plan to do next.