NEWBURYPORT — The Newburyport Information Scavenger Hunt is a key component of a program to understand how people in Newburyport experience and use the community's information system. Scavenger Hunt volunteers are needed to complete a set of tasks about whether they were able to find information about the community, what sources they used and how difficult was the process.
The scavenger hunt will begin in mid-April and should only take about three hours to complete. Those interested in participating should contact Sarah Hayden, executive director of PortMedia. PortMedia is Newburyport's local access channels 8 and 9.
The Information Scavenger Hunt will provide the data necessary to do an assessment of the health of Newburyport's information environment or ecosystem. Hayden has taken the lead in organizing these efforts and expects the entire project to run through late May. According to Hayden, the assessment process is based on the premise that a quality supply of free-flowing news and information is essential to the healthy functioning of communities.
The assessment looks at three different facets of the information ecosystem — the supply of news and information, the skills needed to access and exchange information and the ways the information is delivered and exchanged.
Using tools and a template developed by the Knight Foundation to enable local communities to evaluate the flow of their local news and information, the process includes not only the data scavenger hunt, but workshops with community leaders. After the data is collected, synthesized and presented, community leaders will evaluate the data, identity where Newburyport is strong and develop plans to meet any challenges.
"Even though we have news and information from all over the world at our fingertips, we don't always have a clear understanding of the local issues and at the same time, many community members may lack the skills and tools necessary to access what is going on here," said Hayden. "This is a way to figure out what our weaknesses may be so we can begin a thoughtful way to address them."