Friday, May 17, 2019

An interview with What's Left Left Ypsi on the occasion of their launch party

What's Left Ypsi recently published their inaugural issue. The paper is published by a collective based in Ypsilanti. I am very excited about the paper, and eager to see it grow. To celebrate the occasion of the What's Left Ypsi Launch Party, (May 18th, at Ziggy's, 6:30 - 8:30) members of the WL collective were kind enough to answer some questions about the paper and their vision for local journalism in Ypsilanti. What follows is that interview.

Damn Arbor: Could you tell me a little bit about what motivated you to start What’s Left Ypsi?

What's Left: We started what's Left Ypsi to account for the public media desert in Washtenaw County. Current, Concentrate and MLive primarily cater to local government and private sector issues and often fail to adequately address public interests in Ypsilanti. Among other things the lack of media coverage following last year’s local elections, the murder of Ray Mason, and the proposed International Village Development on Water Street, inspired us to create an outlet for local coverage of what’s going on in Ypsilanti. What’s Left is a community response to a community need.

DA: What are your goals for the paper?

WL: What’s Left Ypsi aims to engage Ypsilanti residents and give everyday community members a forum to express issues that are important to them. We want to provide an opportunity for Ypsilantians to participate in gathering the information we need as a collective. It is important to know what is happening behind closed doors in order to share the power necessary to achieve equity, liberation, and self-determination. We strive to feature under-represented public voices and to create a space to deeply explore issues that impact Ypsilanti directly. In the face of rampant income inequality, racial inequity, housing unaffordability and discrimination, we hope to challenge the traditional narrative that because of its liberal/progressive values everything is alright in Washtenaw County.

DA: You have decided to do a print version of he paper. Why?

WL: Sitting with a paper and drinking morning coffee or tea is just so nostalgic—people long to hold a newspaper in their hands. Beyond that, we made a print version so that What’s Left will be as accessible as possible to folks who don't have internet access or that sort of savviness. We will continue to provide free print copies of the paper in locations throughout town. What’s Left’s website will be updated between issues, and features an option to listen to audio versions of many of the articles. In these ways and more, a focus on accessibility is a driving force behind What’s Left.

DA: In your first issue you had everything from obits, to horiscopes to a city council news ticker. Do you hope to have other types of coverage in the future?

WL: In terms of coverage, we plan on always being eclectic and well-timed. We ask for submissions and suggestions from community members in our paper, on our website, and at our events. We hope that folks look forward to getting the latest copy and can depend on walking away feeling informed about local topics of interest while also enjoying the read. We included the City Council Ticker section so people have a way to keep up with the happenings of Ypsi’s City Government, with the hope that residents will be encouraged to engage their local representatives. In Issue 2 we will have an updated City Council Ticker, and plan to continue to feature this section. In future issues we hope to include more photos, street reporting, features/interviews with individuals in the community, creative writing, reviews, memes, and anything else readers might like to see and/or contribute. We so appreciate all the feedback that we’ve received so far! What’s Left hopes to bring more community voices to the table and encourages readers to contact us regarding stories that they would like to see covered.

DA: Is there anything else you would like to add?

WL: We are a team of over 20 people who have volunteered to create Issue 1 of What’s Left. Join us at our launch party to celebrate with us and learn more about the paper!

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