The history of independent media runs deep in Boston; BINJ is an attempt to keep that tradition alive
Hello there. I’m Chris Faraone, the News + Features editor of DigBoston, and one of the many trash-talkers behind Media Farm. Every week, one of my duties is to spelunk into a slag heap of repulsive nuggets and news items that co-workers and readers send along, and to synthesize the symphony of outrage into one obnoxious stream-of-consciousness rant. It’s kind of a dream job for a columnist, so long as you’re OK with sabotaging all future career prospects within 500 miles.
Which brings me to the reason that I had to forge another path, and to why I’m writing in first-person this week. While I’ll continue in my role as editor and resident kvetch at the Dig, I am also embarking on a related adventure on which we will hopefully cross paths. It’s called the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, BINJ for short, and it’s my attempt to right some of the wrongs that I eviscerate in this column regularly.
To facilitate the change we want to see in local media, BINJ will contract with reporters of all types to produce features that are relevant to one or more of five general editorial departments: Investigative, Tech & Innovation, Arts, Engagement Narratives, and Intercultural. We will operate with rigor, and drill hard on difficult issues, while structurally BINJ will rely on a vast network of independent media makers (of various skill levels and interests), and distribute through a matrix of deeply-rooted commonwealth press institutions—from scrappy outer-borough weeklies to hyper-local blogs and podcasts.
Most importantly, we are not establishing from scratch or staffing yet another mill to feed the hourly news cycle and rat race. Rather, our model is designed to yield projects that learnedly step back to glimpse the big picture. We will facilitate content-sharing, particularly between foreign-language and English outlets, but most story components will be unique to the publication with which they are being produced. For readers of the Dig and of any of the other 20-plus outlets that have already expressed interest in working with BINJ, all you really need to know is that you will be getting free and easy access to thoroughly reported multimedia features on topics that are not adequately represented elsewhere. Resources are scant in the alternative and community press, but our hope is that BINJ can help diversify a Hub media landscape that is increasingly dominated by a few elite entities.
We will divulge more details as they are available, including a tip line and a number of other mechanisms through which we can connect with the public. This will only work with the help of you, the readers. If you check Media Farm regularly, then you already know that what passes for news in the mainstream around here is unconscionable tripe. At the same time, you hopefully have faith in the literally dozens of local outfits that are working hard to reflect views from the ground. With extra muscle from a third-party booster like BINJ, our hope is that they can all broaden their reach and impact, and in the process form a chorus that connects various facets of Hub culture.