Funding 100 local news articles covering Boston area communities during the coronavirus crisis
Given the challenges presented to our work created by the coronavirus pandemic, the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism is starting a new project to align our mission with the reality of our situation.
One of the signal features of that situation is that the rolling collapse of local commercial news media may now accelerate as the businesses it relies on for advertising start shutting down in the face of social distancing and quarantine policies in response to the pandemic.
Starting immediately, we will recruit professional and amateur journalists to provide breaking coverage of key societal institutions—government, corporate, social, and cultural—in communities in and around Boston. We will also recruit student journalists who have now all been asked to leave their colleges and return home. Leaving them with little to do.
We are devoting $10,000 to this new initiative immediately.
We will pay $100 per article participating journalists produce to start.
So we are commissioning 100 articles—covering subjects of local interest as they relate to the coronavirus crisis that would otherwise never see the light of day. And in this fashion we are doing our small part to support some of the many Mass journalists who were already struggling before the crisis, but have now abruptly found themselves completely bereft of work in their field.
We will feature these articles on the BINJ website, binjonline.org, and syndicate them for free to all public-spirited news outlets—notably DigBoston.
Further, we will offer online training in basic journalism skills to all comers for free.
We will support our existing Somerville News Garden project with this new project and will launch the Somerville Wire to disseminate news in that city as soon as possible at somervillewire.org.
As our coverage network grows, we plan to assign experienced journalists to run similar local projects for other communities.
In closing, we will do everything we can to ensure that local news coverage continues in and around Boston for the foreseeable future. And we will seek expanded funding from foundation, (ethical) business, and government sources—as well as the general public—to fulfill this mandate.
Journalists who would like to work with our new project should contact us at [email protected] immediately.
Massachusetts community news outlets that would like to partner with us should do the same.
Together we help our region survive the pandemic in the best shape possible by providing people the information they need to make the best decisions about both their personal and our societal welfare in this difficult time. And move past the crisis to reverse the destruction of local news media in the interest of democracy.
The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism would like to thank the Reva & David Logan Foundation for its generous support of our work—now including this new project—since 2015. Readers who would like to donate to BINJ can click here.
Jason Pramas is executive director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and executive editor and associate publisher of DigBoston.