Posts Tagged ‘community newspaper’

Photo: Indian Country Today.
National Correspondent Mary Annette Pember, right, reports for Indian Country Today.

One of the things that Russia’s war in Ukraine has clarified is that good journalism is vital to democracy. Most people in Russia right now have access only to propaganda, which is why they have no idea what’s going on in Ukraine. In a tapped phone call, the mother of at least one Russian soldier refused to believe her son’s eye-witness account.

The US has its own threats to journalism — misinformation on social media, certainly, but also outlet consolidation. The loss of local papers to big chains, especially in rural areas, is increasingly recognized as dangerous.

Today’s story is about how nonprofit angels are helping local reporting hang on by the skin of its teeth.

Ben Morse writes at Current, “Water is an important issue to Joe Wertz. As climate and environment editor at Colorado Public Radio, he’s overseen a lot of reporting on water in the state and its scientific and political aspects. …

“CPR will be able to dive deeper into that complexity thanks to a new collaboration with the Institute for Nonprofit News. INN announced in November that it will launch a Rural News Network this year focusing on issues of concern to rural Americans, particularly communities of color. …

“Said Jonathan Kealing, chief network officer for INN, ‘It allows us to really put the equity lens on this storytelling thread throughout the project.’

“INN began planning the project in 2020 in response to interest from its members, Kealing said. The institute had previously convened rural news collaborations, and Kealing wanted to expand on that work.

“ ‘The success we had in previous coverage of rural issues, rural education, rural health care, and those stories really had an impact in their communities and really helped the newsrooms meet their mission of serving and informing their communities,’ he said.

“INN reached out to its 350 member organizations, and two — Daily Yonder in Whitesburg, Ky., and Investigative Midwest in Champaign, Ill. — expressed interest in leading and shaping the new project. The outlets, which specialize in rural and agricultural coverage, will provide RNN organizations with deep source networks and access to local community data, said Daily Yonder Editor Tim Marema.  

“Stories from the first pilot series, ‘Tapped Out: Power and water justice in the rural West,’ began coming out in November, funded by a $30,000 grant from the Water Foundation that will be divided among participating organizations. …

“The goal for the collaboration is to reach a bigger audience, said INN Member Collaborations Editor Bridget Thoreson. … ‘We’re taking work that’s already being done and connecting it to get this force multiplier effect, where it’s really able to reach and represent more people,’ Thoreson said. …

‘The real strength of radio is just its incredible reach across broad geographic areas.’ …

“In December, CPR published an article about how water shortages and policies governing the Colorado River affect tribal communities, who were excluded from negotiations over the river in 1922. The piece aired on CPR, Science Friday republished the article, and host Ira Flato interviewed CPR climate/environment reporter Michael Elizabeth Sakas Dec. 10.

“Another public radio station, KOSU in Stillwater, Okla., is participating in the second pilot program, which will cover economic issues within tribal communities. The pilot will feature 10 news organizations. … Each organization will cover stories in its region. Indian Country Today, leader of the series and an INN member, will publish a story about tribal economics across rural America. …

“The station is collaborating with tribal publications Mvskoke Media and Osage News on a story about Native-owned businesses, and KOSU created a survey asking Oklahomans which tribal businesses it should cover. …

“Community-driven reporting is an integral part of the tribal economics project, said Dianna Hunt, a senior editor at Indian Country Today who will lead the tribal economics project with Thoreson. …

“ ‘The first phase of the project is listening,’ Hunt said. ‘That part will kick off the project, and then the reporting will follow from the information that they get from their individual communities.’

“Hunt said that engagement with rural Americans is crucial because local communities will pick the stories that make up the pilot. Building trust is key, she added, because residents in rural and tribal communities lack trust in journalists due to negative stereotyping and parachute reporting by the national media.”

More at Current, here.

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