In last week’s column about our transition to nonprofit news, I discussed why nonprofit journalism makes sense for the future of journalism. This week, I want to address why we are already well-positioned to fulfill our nonprofit mission.
For nearly 14 years, the My Neighborhood News Network has educated readers about what is happening in their communities and given them a place to share information and opinions. But we have done much more.
We have sponsored gatherings aimed at teaching participants how to better listen to each other. We have fostered civic engagement through local political candidate debates and forums. We have supported journalism education by working with local high school and college journalism students – including paid internships — because we believe that journalism is the foundation of our democracy. We have promoted the work of service clubs and other volunteer groups because we’re convinced that volunteerism is what holds the fabric of our communities together.
Given this foundational work over the past 14 years, it was easy to develop a mission statement for our nonprofit news organization:
To create a financially sustainable nonprofit news organization focused on civic education and engagement for all stakeholders — including those who have been traditionally underrepresented — and finding solutions for issues that matter to our communities.
In taking this step to nonprofit status, I have spoken with community leaders about the value our publications provide to the cities we cover. While it’s clear that our work is appreciated, it’s also clear that there’s so much more we could be doing. By expanding our base of financial support through nonprofit status, we can create both a sustainable staffing model and a community asset. This move changes the focus from a one-person news operation, supported by a team of freelance and contract help, to an organization that is essentially owned by the community it serves. The work will be guided by an all-volunteer nonprofit board of directors, who bring a range of skills and backgrounds to the organization.
Converting to nonprofit status opens the door to additional sources of financial support while still allowing us to accept advertising from our valued sponsors – many of whom have been with us for many years. Those additional financial resources will strengthen our longstanding commitment to serving our community, providing for broader and deeper coverage of issues that matter to our readers — from housing to transportation to the environment to education to public safety.
We invite you to celebrate the launch of nonprofit news in South Snohomish County, and to help us build this organization to better serve our readers. A reminder that the celebration will be held on Thursday, June 29, from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Lynnwood Event Center.
The theme for our June 29 launch is “Help Us Build it,” and you’ll have an opportunity that evening to share your ideas for nonprofit news. What do you value about what we provide now? What are your ideas for improving our news coverage? We’ll be recording your ideas and compiling them – and they will serve as a guide for our work.
During the event, you’ll learn more about our approach to sustainable community news while enjoying appetizers, beverages, live music and some inspiring speakers. It’s free but RSVPs are requested here, so we can plan.
I welcome this new chapter of local news in South Snohomish County, and I look forward to sharing more details with you next week about ways you can engage in this transition.
— By Teresa Wippel, President and CEO
My Neighborhood News Network
P.S. Thanks to our launch sponsor, Coastal Community Bank!