Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, protests about racial injustice, a contentious election and a seditious attack on the U.S. Capitol, local newsrooms have done amazing work over the past year to keep their audiences informed about all of it.
Journalists have put in all this effort amid increasingly challenging financial conditions in the local media industry. My least favorite web page is this one on poynter.org, which keeps track of layoffs, closures and other cuts at news organizations since the pandemic began.
As these privately owned media companies fight for survival and search for a funding model that is both sustainable and provides vital and trustworthy news coverage of local communities, we’ve seen more nonprofit journalism organizations (NPJs) emerge to report on specific topics and/or geographic areas that other newsrooms won’t or can’t adequately cover.
We’ll explore the growing role of NPJ in local communities during a virtual panel discussion sponsored by the UIS Public Affairs Reporting program at 6 p.m. April 28. Register for free at http://go.uis.edu/NPJ.
We’re thrilled to welcome four journalism veterans to our panel:
- Dawn Rhodes is senior editor of Block Club Chicago, a nonprofit newsroom that provides coverage of Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods. She formerly reported for the Chicago Tribune.
- Jeff Rogers is editor of Capitol News Illinois, a nonprofit Springfield-based news service that covers state government. CNI’s work appears in newspapers throughout Illinois.
- Sue Cross is executive director of the Institute for Nonprofit News, which represents more than 300 North American news organizations that are nonprofit and nonpartisan, including Block Club and CNI.
- Brant Houston is professor and Knight Chair of Investigative Reporting in the journalism department at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He studies the NPJ movement and is working on a book about the topic.
Our discussion will be moderated by two Public Affairs Reporting students who are working this semester as news reporting interns for NPJs: Grace Barbic from CNI and Christine Hatfield from WGLT/WCBU, the NPR affiliates in Bloomington-Normal and Peoria.
Jason Piscia is an assistant professor and director of the Public Affairs Reporting program at the University of Illinois Springfield, who came to UIS following a 21-year career at The State Journal-Register (SJ-R).