Today we enthusiastically announce the launch of our Latino Communities Reporting Lab in partnership with the local Meriden-Wallingford Community Foundation, our nonprofit fiscal sponsor, as well as the many community stakeholders who have been part of our listening tour over the last five months and our Launch Partner sponsors. On our listening tour, we have had 82 conversations, held four focus groups and received 51 survey responses.
As a 154-year-old family-owned company, we feel this is essential to continuing our mission in our local community, where Latinos represent 29.1% of Meriden’s total population, including 58.2% of Meriden students. In Wallingford, Latinos make up 8% of the total population, including 19.6% of Wallingford students.
During our listening tour, Maria Campos-Harlow, executive director of the United Way of Meriden and Wallingford, told us that there are so many success stories of local Latinos to be highlighted. Those include the Lopez family, which came from Mexico to flourish in Wallingford. The 38 family members include business owners, factory workers, top students and talented musicians and singers. They also throw great parties, she said.
Miguel Cardona, our new U.S. Secretary of Education, encouraged us to partner with the schools, amplify youth voices and engage with parents to provide information and resources that they need. He recommended we communicate the positive things happening in schools, but not shy away from the difficult challenges, such as the achievement gap.
Educators, business people, medical professionals, politicians and government officials told us that Latinos face inequities in all areas, from education to health to business. And that information is often inaccessible or is not available in Spanish, making navigating everyday life much more difficult.
Nonprofits leaders, church leaders and community members encouraged us not to treat the Latino community as a monolith, but rather to share the rich traditions, customs and events from their various cultures. They asked us for journalists who are representative of the Latino community and are bilingual, so more trust can be built.
All of these conversations led us to creating our Mission:
To amplify the voices of our local Latino communities.
■To provide empowering, fact-based news, information and resources for our Latino communities.
■To shine a light on injustices and inequities to promote greater understanding and a more inclusive community for everyone.
■To showcase the successes and contributions of Latinos as a way of inspiring young people to expand what they consider possible.
Our goal for our Latino Communities Reporting Lab is to build a new team of five bilingual journalists, including three reporters, one photographer/videographer and one editor, representative of our Latino communities, to fulfill this mission and drive outcomes and impact for our community.
You may have seen more columns and articles that have run over the last few weeks on topics of importance to our Latino communities. We look forward to many more. We welcome more voices to help us shape our coverage.
But we also need your help. New initiatives require new funding strategies. Our immediate goal is to raise $50,000 over the next 50 days to fund a second bilingual reporter for our Latino Communities Reporting Lab to provide expanded local journalism as a public service to our community. We recently invested in the first position when our new bilingual reporter, Jareliz Diaz, joined us in February.
You can make a tax-deductible donation directly to the Record-Journal’s Latino Communities Reporting Fund, sponsored by the nonprofit Meriden-Wallingford Community Foundation. To contribute, go to givebutter.com/LatinoReportingLab or you can send a check to the Meriden-Wallingford Community Foundation c/o Liberty Bank, 909 N. Colony Road. Wallingford, CT 06492, and write “Record-Journal Latino Communities Reporting Lab” in the memo line.
Innovation: Philanthropic Funding Model for Journalism
We’re passionate about trusted, local news. But the business model for journalism has changed dramatically over the last decade, and even more so over the last year during the pandemic, severely impacting the industry. Between 2004 and 2018 more than 900 communities nationwide lost their sources of local news, creating “news deserts,” according to Poynter.org.
The cost of producing trusted journalism also continues to rise. We have a newsroom of 28 people, part of our company of 67 total team members, that is committed to providing quality local journalism and fact-based reporting that informs and empowers our community. Our company proudly accepted the nationwide honor this month from Editor & Publisher Magazine as One of 10 News Publishers That Do It Right.
For us, change fuels innovation. In recent years, we have evolved and transformed our business and built new strategic pillars. In September we jumped at the opportunity the national Local Media Association launched called the Lab for Journalism Funding, led by faculty from The Seattle Times. We were selected as one of just 16 media companies across the nation to participate in helping build the model for the industry.
Philanthropic funding for journalism, our newest pillar, can take the form of support from foundations, corporations, philanthropists or individual community donations. Our longer-term goal is to fund a third of our newsroom through philanthropic funding — all while maintaining editorial independence and objectivity in our reporting. Donor transparency will also be a key element of our approach.
This model is gaining traction across the country, including at The Seattle Times, where 19 journalists have been funded by philanthropy over the last eight years. Other successful models have formed in newsrooms in Fresno, Dallas, Boston and Miami.
We are thrilled to announce that we have partnered locally with the Meriden-Wallingford Community Foundation, a Section 501(c)3 organization, as our fiscal sponsor to accept tax-deductible donations. We truly appreciate their overwhelming support.
Other types of support will come in the form of more traditional sponsorships or advertising from businesses, like Members First Credit Union, Ulbrich Steel, Liberty Bank and Fosdick Fulfillment, who we proudly announce as our Launch Partners.
Today, we are also asking for your support. You can make a tax-deductible donation directly to the Record-Journal’s Latino Communities Reporting Fund, sponsored by the nonprofit Meriden-Wallingford Community Foundation. To learn more or donate, go to myrecordjournal.com /LatinoReportingLab.
Please also feel free to reach out to me directly at email@example.com.