In January, Google invited Oakland Voices to participate in a pilot program that was to begin in Oakland, California and Nashville, Tennessee. Soon thereafter, they conducted a workshop on their new app, Bulletin. Bulletin is a hyperlocal storytelling tool where everyday citizens share community-oriented stories on the fly. Stories could be about non-profit organizations, grand openings or school events — “local stories that are impactful and inspiring,” according to the Google Bulletin Forum. “If you like sharing content on social media but believe a larger audience could benefit, this app may be for you.”
I’ve since written 40-plus Google Bulletin stories, three times more than I have for Oakland Voices. The reason is our Oakland Voices stories are at least 800 words. With Bulletin, you take pictures or videos and add captions or text of maybe two to three lines describing the media content or what’s taking place. Viewers are supposed to feel as though they were there by seeing the five Ws: who, what, when, where and why.
I’ve written an array of stories, recently reaching over 2000 views, 11 shares, and 117 likes! Google even asked me to be part of the Bulletin infomercial It was interesting having the film crew follow me around while I was reporting on the 38th Annual Soul Food Festival and Block Party in San Francisco.
Feature stories I’ve reported include Octapharma Plasma Opening Soon in Eastmont Township Center along with a new BBQ restaurant across from it, East Oakland Congress of Neighborhood’s 3rd Annual Meeting and about Oakland’s own Black Panther movie. As I was capturing a story about AC Transit’s BRT project, I stumbled upon East Oakland’s H&M Laundromat Now Offers Free WiFi.
My latest story done on June 29 was on Black Professional Fab Fridays at Everett and Jones. An earlier story on April 22 was about Bay Area Wedding Fairs. They were at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, a much bigger venue than they did at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Concord on April 8th. I love fashion (see my Rainbow story), including wedding gowns, which is what drew me to the story.
I also like being in crowds, dancing, and listening to music, hence I attend festivals regularly. Some stories about these types of events have been The Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco, the Berkeley Bay Festival, the 16th Oakland International Film Festival, the Black Joy Parade in Oakland, and Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras Parade in San Francisco. As a career woman I was attracted to the Madam C.J. Walker 20th Annual Business & Community Awards Recognition Luncheon and The Expat Woman Empowered Leadership Summit, both in San Francisco.
I’ve also found myself reporting plain, hard news- spot features, such as those on the Metro PCS and East Oakland Deliverance Faith Center being vandalized, tree branches in electrical street lines in East Oakland: Please Cut Me Down City of Oakland, and a Woman arrested at Eastmont Town Center. With Bulletin, you can continue to edit and delete your story. For example, I added some pictures to my BRT story and plan to until the project is complete. I also updated my KFC story, for they’ve recently completed their renovations.
A more politically-angled story was about the Women’s March in Oakland. I bring up an interesting topic in my Jack and Kicks Event at Sole Space story about most of the music being played there had the”N” word in it. While I’ve heard the rhetoric that people of different races use it in slang so that African-Americans may become immune to it, I haven’t heard the negative references of other races used similarly.
During the workshop, Google shared a story example of a problem that I’m having in my neighborhood: Reported Illegal Dumping Problem on 74th and International Blvd. They said it would provide online, documented proof, implying that it may command attention. The story has resulted in the block being cleaned up more frequently.
Every week or so, the Bulletin Pilot Program spotlights some articles. Three of my stories were featured: Wedding Fair at Crowne Plaza Hotel, The 16th Oakland International Film Festival, and the Free Weekly Outdoor Movies at The Proxy.
The app is still in beta stage and has problems the engineers are working out. Three of my stories were lost, including StreetBeats Hip Hop Fest: DJ Workshops & Dance Lessons in San Francisco, the 59th White Elephant Sale: 96,000 Sq Ft Rummage Sale in Oakland and the one I was reporting during the filming of the infomercial. Frequently, all of the posts in a story won’t show up.