Become a Correspondent: Stop and Watch

The success of The Ann Arbor Chronicle depends on the community’s contribution of content. Here’s one way you can help without getting paid in cash money.

Stopped. Watched. items are Ann Arbor Chronicle ‘briefs’ that are displayed in the left sidebar. Occasionally, we’ll highlight one as especially worthy of your attention and display it in the center column. But the key to any Stopped. Watched. item is brevity They’re no longer than about 140 characters – around the maximum length of a text message. They’re headlined with a geographic designation. Users of the Twitter network will recognize the parallel. If you don’t know what Twitter is, you don’t need to know. This isn’t Twitter.

Here’s the concept of being a Stopped. Watched. correspondent. These items come from observations out ‘there’ in the physical world. They’re not links to some cool video you saw. They’re not reflections on the hairball your cat just yacked up. You’ve got to go out into the world, soak up what you see, and occasionally stop. And watch. And occasionally, when you see something that you think needs to be elevated to a broader community, you file a 140-character report.

And that report might pique The Chronicle’s curiosity enough that we not only publish that item, we follow up on it. We make a few phone calls, ask a few questions, take a few photos, and maybe that winds up as a story. Not everything you file as a Stopped. Watched. item is going to wind up as a full-on story.

Not everything you file is even going to be published. Why not? Because if that’s what Chronicle readers want to read, there’s myriad other unfiltered data streams they can subscribe to (e.g., your Twitter feed). But also because we don’t want you to filter your own reports thinking, “Oh, this probably wouldn’t be a good Stopped. Watched. item.” If you did that, we might miss the freshly killed skunk in the bike lane with its guts hanging out. And we’d have no reason to find out who at the City takes care of road kill, how long it typically takes to get a response, what the average decomp time for various animals is, how the budget of that department has grown or shrunk over the last decade.

And once that article on The Road Kill of Ann Arbor is published in the Chronicle, no Chronicle reader will wonder, “Why on earth are they writing about road kill?!” because that article will be stuck right to the Stopped. Watched. item that inspired it – stuck to it like gum on the bottom of your shoe. Gum on the bottom of your shoe? Sure, file it as a Stopped. Watch item. See if it gets published.

For technical details on filing reports (by Twitter or using the Chronicle’s own interface) and to discuss becoming a correspondent: Contact Us