The Future Of America’s Free Press Is In Our Hands

Turning #GivingTuesday into #GivingNewsDay — a new national campaign will match donations to nonprofit journalism.

(This article was originally published at HuffPost.)

Marie McCausland said Reddit saved her life, but it was actually nonprofit journalism.

Days after delivering her first child, the 27-year-old was having terrible pain, but ER doctors suggested nothing was wrong. However, she had read a story on maternal deaths from ProPublica that had been recently posted to Reddit and recognized her symptoms as preeclampsia. She insisted on a second opinion and got the treatment she needed, likely saving her life.

Across the United States, nonprofit newsrooms like ProPublica report on life and death issues every day. Most of these outlets are small, and just a few years old, but they are already having a huge impact on the communities they serve. They are tackling local corruption, water quality in schools, veterans health, and much, much more. And they are doing it under increasing pressure. The old models that sustained journalism for a long time are eroding, and local and investigative newsrooms are facing a perfect storm of economic challenges and political threats.

Every year, millions of Americans mark the Tuesday after Thanksgiving by donating to nonprofit and philanthropic causes as part of Giving Tuesday. This year, News Match, the largest-ever grassroots campaign to strengthen nonprofit journalism, is celebrating #GivingNewsDay — a nationwide call-to-action for all who are concerned about the news and information needs of our communities and falling trust in news media in our in our democracy. From now through the end of the year, a group of foundations is doubling donations to more than 100 newsrooms that produce stories that make a difference.

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Why Quality Journalism Matters When We Talk About Honoring Veterans

Ahead of Veterans Day, News Match 2017 — the largest-ever grassroots campaign to strengthen non-profit journalism across the United States — is shining a spotlight on journalists and newsrooms whose work has lifted up critical issues impacting veterans and their families. News Match is doubling donations to these organizations, and more than 100 others, between now and the end of the year. You can support quality reporting on veterans issues by visiting www.newsmatch.org.

“Every Veterans Day, Americans come together to recognize the sacrifice and valor of our veterans throughout the country,” said Sue Cross, executive director and CEO of the Institute for Nonprofit News. “Non-profit news organizations do this daily through their groundbreaking reporting—ensuring our nation lives up to our commitment to those who have served.”

From Colorado to Connecticut the stories below remind us of the incredible sacrifices veterans have made, and the powerful role journalists play in telling their stories. Continue reading

News Match Launches With $3 Million in Matching Funds for Nonprofit Newsrooms Across the Country

This month three foundations announced they are putting up $3 million in matching dollars and inviting the nation to stand up and support local news and investigative reporting. The News Match fund is a collaboration between Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

News Match is the largest grassroots fundraising campaign ever to support nonprofit and investigative news organizations. Across the country, 110 newsrooms are participating. Together we want 2017 to be a record-setting year for donations to news to ensure that innovative, nonprofit newsrooms have the resources they need to deliver high-quality reporting to the communities they serve. Donors can contribute up to $1,000 between now and December 31, and every donation will be matched, up to a total of $27,000 per organization. Continue reading

How to Find and Support Trustworthy Journalism

If you are hungry for news you can trust, journalism that helps you make decisions about your community, reporting that holds power to account, then this is for you. This is my personal advice for people who want to support journalism that matters. It is just a starting point, it is not comprehensive, and it’ll become stronger and more useful if you add your ideas to it. Use the comments to add your list of newsrooms you subscribe to and support.

Now more than ever, it is important to our democracy that we seek out and support good journalism. Every person is going to construct their media diet differently, so any list I create will be incomplete. My goal here is to provide a framework for you to find the news that will challenge, inspire, inform and engage you.

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My Next Adventure: Journalism’s Wicked Problems and Democracy’s Complex Systems

After two amazing years working with local journalists across New Jersey and New York City on creative experiments in revenue models and community engagement this is my last week at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

For the past two years I’ve had the good fortune to work with Molly de Aguiar and Chris Daggett at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation where they have been pioneering an “ecosystem model” for supporting and strengthening local news. Through the Local News Lab project, which was funded by the Knight Foundation, we have built a more connected, inclusive and responsive news ecosystem in New Jersey. We’ve experimented with new revenue ideas, community engagement efforts, philanthropy models and groundbreaking collaborations. We didn’t just fund good ideas, we looked for people and projects that could help make structural change in local news.

We have learned a lot (check out our lessons learned here). All of that work is going to continue – stay tuned for big things to come from Molly and the Local News Lab.

In 2011 I wrote a blog post calling for a “systems approach to remaking journalism.” In New Jersey the Dodge Foundation is showing that this approach has promise. Their ecosystem approach is rooted in the idea that the challenges facing journalism are not individual problems but rather complex systems of economics, technology, policy, culture and more. Jay Rosen has called these “wicked problems,” and they are just the sort of problems I love to work on.

One of our partners in the work of the Local News Lab has been the Democracy Fund,  a bipartisan foundation established by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar to help ensure that the American people come first in our democracy. Democracy Fund focuses on engaged citizens and vibrant media, supporting innovations and institutions that help people understand and participate in the democratic process.

Starting in June I’ll be joining the Democracy Fund as Associate Director for the Informed Participation program, helping lead their local journalism work and investments around the country.

I’ll be building on our lessons from the work in New Jersey and exploring new ways we can intervene in the complex systems that shape journalism and the public square today. This is a natural evolution of the work I’ve been doing because systems thinking is at the core of how the Democracy Fund approaches its work. To get a sense for what that means, check out this local news and civic participation map that Democracy Fund recently published. It will serve as a starting point for the work ahead. And because the Democracy Fund is supporting the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation’s innovative work, I get to continue to work with them as an ally and partner.

At Democracy Fund we’ll be doing this work in partnership with local communities who want to think big about new ways to support vigorous local news and a robust public square. I’m thrilled to be joining the Democracy Fund at this critical moment for our politics and our press.

Lessons from The New York Times Super Tuesday hoax: Five ways to spot fake news

Fake articles mostly go under the radar, but have the potential to cause lasting damage. Here are some red flags to help spot them

(This article was originally published by the First Draft News Coalition. Check out their site for guides, tips and tools for debunking misinformation online.)

On the eve of Super Tuesday, a New York Times article made the rounds on social media reporting that Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren had endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders for president. The only problem: It was fake.

The New York Times released a statement and others debunked the fake on Tuesday, as people were headed to the polls, but by that point the fake article “had been viewed more than 50,000 times, with 15,000 shares on Facebook,” the Times reported.

This is just the most recent in a long line of fake news reports which have swept through social media in recent years. Last year Twitter’s share price spiked after a fake Bloomberg article claimed that Google was considering buying the social media platform. In 2012, Wikileaks created a fake New York Times op-ed from then-Times-editor Bill Keller defending Wikileaks in what appeared to be a change of position from his earlier statements about the group. The fake was so convincing that even New York Times journalists were sharing it on Twitter.

This kind of hoax isn’t limited to the web. Just a few weeks ago a pro-Palestinian grouphanded out fake versions of the New York Times to highlight what it believes is the Time’s bias against Palestinians. In 2008 the Yes Men distributed thousands of copies of a 14-page fake New York Times all over New York City. The paper declared the end of the Iraq war on the front page.

Online it is increasingly simple for activists and pranksters to spoof the look and feel of a major news website and these fakes can have real impacts from Wall Street to the voting booth. However, in each of these past cases there has been some clear giveaways that are instructive for anyone who wants to spot fakes in the future. Continue reading

From Chat Apps to Town Halls: Why More Newsrooms are Designing Journalism for Conversation

A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.” — Arthur Miller

At a panel on “The Hunt for News Products of the Future” hosted by CUNY and the New School last week, Aron Pilhofer, the Interim Chief Digital Officer of The Guardian, said he is fascinated with the intersection of messaging, bots and artificial intelligence in apps like Facebook’s project M, and how that might change how we enter into a conversation with the news. The comment came on the heels of Pilhofer discussing the new mobile app from Quartz, which uses a messaging interface to deliver news via interactions with the user. He said using the Quartz app was “the first time I opened up a news app and felt like it had a soul.”

I felt that too — perhaps not a soul, but a sense of connection.

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