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This year marks the second year Flint Beat, a local newsroom focused on filling news gaps and providing a voice for Flint residents who are underrepresented in common media tropes, will be participating in NewsMatch, a national fundraising campaign aimed to help foster growth of nonprofit news organizations.
Flint Beat was founded launched on March 13, 2017 by Jiquanda Johnson, Flint native and journalist, who resonated with residents’ complaints about the one-dimensional nature of some of Flint’s news coverage. Whereas other platforms tend to bog themselves down with news on crime, sports, and the ongoing water crisis, Flint Beat has committed itself to covering an array of topics such as local news, politics and education, as well as investing in solutions journalism as a way of combating gun violence in the community.
When asked about how successful the publication has been in meeting its goals, Johnson replied:
“From an audience or the residents’ perspective, they say we are filling a gap in news coverage and reporting in Flint. Most of how we gauge things is based on what I hear in the community—the feedback I get from residents and readers.
I always feel like we could do more, so I guess I’m pretty hard on myself and what our expectations are. I know that each day, each month, each year, we get better so I expect great things from Flint Beat and the direction we’re going in.”
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One of the biggest challenges that local newsrooms face when it comes to being able to meet goals and successfully distribute content is funding.
“Local outlets may serve smaller communities, which presents challenges of scale because they have smaller markets from which to build revenue,” said the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) in a 2019 report; however, with the help of support programs and initiatives such as NewsMatch, there has been an increase in revenue.
In 2018, NewsMatch helped raise more than $7.6 million for 154 nonprofit news outlets across the country, and nearly over $15.8 million since its conception in 2016. The campaign has also seen an increase in donors. Of the 240,000 people who donated during the previous year’s campaign, 52,000 were new.
NewsMatch 2019 runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, 2019. Each donor is allowed to contribute up to $1,000 which will then be matched by nationwide funders. Participating organizations can raise up to $20,000, meaning there is a potential of $40,000 to be earned — big bucks for smaller newsrooms who may be struggling to make ends meet.
Johnson commented on how being a participant has helped aid in Flint Beat’s financial welfare, saying they made three times their goal of $5,000 during the previous year’s campaign.
“That helped us do things like pay a grant writer for some things that we’re working on, especially our work in solutions journalism, one of our focuses. It also helped us to have a fellow in 2019 going into 2020. That can help contribute to content. We’re still looking at some other things but it’s helped put certain things in place that we feel will contribute to our sustainability.”
“I love Flint and so it enabled me to continue to cover a community that I love, that I grew up in, that I want to give back to.”