Wednesday, June 29, 2022
June 29, 2022

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Columbian readers can help support newspaper’s coverage of Clark County issues

By , Columbian Editor
Published:

The Columbian today is announcing a new Community Funded Journalism initiative to boost its reporting across key subject areas.

Already, $1.1 million has been pledged by local donors to fund two reporting positions covering topics related to homelessness and affordable housing and one position covering transportation, including the Interstate 5 Bridge replacement project.

The funding is enough to cover between three and six years of work per position, and the reporters will focus on narrative, investigative and data-driven storytelling.

The Columbian’s CFJ initiative is led by Will Campbell, innovation editor and a fourth-generation owner of The Columbian. It is in cooperation with the Local Media Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable trust affiliated with Local Media Association, one of the largest local media trade associations in North America.

Local donors announced so far are the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Trust, the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, and Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg. More donations are being solicited, including donations from Columbian readers and individuals.

“Our community and our democracy work best if people have access to timely, accurate information about local events, news, and the issues of the day,” David Nierenberg said. “The Columbian has served us well since 1890, by providing us with exactly that sort of information.

“Gifts from donors in our community will enable its tradition of service to continue and thrive in the digital era. And the gifts will enable its reporters to drill down for further detail and insight about the most important issues which we face, such as education, health care, transportation, crime, housing, economic growth, elections and cultural issues,” he said.

“We cannot afford to take high quality information for granted. Look at Russia today to see what can happen when there is no free press. Please join us in supporting this most worthy cause,” Nierenberg said.

For The Columbian, Community Funded Journalism marks a transformative moment as it transitions from an advertising-supported company to one supported mostly by subscribers and donors.

“These three positions will increase The Columbian’s metro reporting team by 50 percent and will allow us to do in-depth reporting on topics that are important to our readers and our community,” Campbell said.

“It’s important to note that while major donors will receive a regular accounting of how their contributions were spent, they will have no advance knowledge of stories or input into The Columbian’s editorial decisions, which will continue to be made by newsroom staff,” Campbell said. “In the interest of transparency, articles funded by donations will be acknowledged by placement of a logo. Finally, we’ve created a webpage to explain this initiative to the public.”

Community Funded Journalism was pioneered a decade ago by The Seattle Times. Today, the Times employs community-funded journalists covering homelessness, education, traffic and investigative reporting topics. Many other newspapers nationwide have successfully replicated The Seattle Times’ model.

In Community Funded Journalism, donations directly offset the cost of reporting by specific reporters about specific subjects and are not used to improve the newspaper’s profits or balance sheet, or even to defray the costs of gathering news about other topics.

At The Columbian, donations will be used to fund the direct effort of reporters on these key subject areas. The Local Media Foundation will receive the donations and disburse them to The Columbian periodically to cover the costs of CFJ reporters and projects.

After today’s announcement, The Columbian will begin to recruit journalists to apply for the first three Community Funded Journalism positions, with a target hiring date of early- to mid-summer. A possible fourth position, covering the environment and climate change, is contingent upon continuing fundraising efforts.

You can help

To support The Columbian’s Community Funded Journalism campaign, visit https://givebutter.com/columbian.

The Columbian’s Community Funded Journalism Program is designed to raise awareness for important issues in Clark County, including homelessness, transportation, climate change and the environment. Donations to LMF for this program are tax deductible to the extent of the law. Please consult a tax adviser for details. No goods or services are provided in exchange for donations. This program is administered by Local Media Foundation, tax ID #36-4427750, a Section 501(c)(3) charitable trust affiliated with Local Media Association.

Campbell said The Columbian is working to solicit about $650,000 in additional donations to support the four reporter positions for at least six years each. The Columbian plans to stretch the Community Funded Journalism program as far into the future as possible with additional donations.

“These additional stories will grow our community,” Campbell said.

Support local journalism

Your tax-deductible donation to The Columbian’s Community Funded Journalism program will contribute to better local reporting on key issues, including homelessness, housing, transportation and the environment. Reporters will focus on narrative, investigative and data-driven storytelling.

Local journalism needs your help. It’s an essential part of a healthy community and a healthy democracy.

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