Foundation Launches Project to Support Local Media

BAYSIDE, CA (July 9, 2020) – Humboldt Area Foundation and its affiliate, the Wild Rivers Community Foundation, have invested $35,000 for a pilot project to support local journalism in generating truthful, courageous and equitable stories covering vulnerable and traditionally under-represented communities affected by the coronavirus in Humboldt, Trinity, Del Norte and Curry counties. The project will also work to lift community voices and increase access to relevant and useful information people can use. The project involves both nonprofit and for-profit media partners, with the North Coast Journal and Access Humboldt as the initiating lead partners.

CEO Bryna Lipper said: “We at the Humboldt Area and Wild Rivers Community Foundation recognize the vital role of our local media and independent journalism. They are uniquely positioned to understand our region, and its context, history and people. We are proud to support the North Coast Journal and Access Humboldt, and honor their shared commitment to lifting up voices that may not otherwise be heard.

Under the Community Voices Coalition banner, the North Coast Journal will soon publish its first weekly story. The Journal will harness the talent of existing staff and their network of journalists in developing and creating pieces for print. Their investigations, publications, and social media will be conducted with full editorial independence and under their rigorous editorial control.

The Journal will also create an open-source social media channel, where stories can be picked up for distribution, and repurposed by other regional or national media outlets, a successful model similar to CalMatters to provide high-quality non-partisan stories explaining the work of California government.

This pilot project also includes an ambitious collaboration with Access Humboldt. Working with Internews and other regional partners, Access Humboldt will promote community voices to strengthen local media reporting and citizen journalism. Continuing to build on its history of amplifying local perspectives and talent, Access Humboldt will provide media training and manage local cable television and radio channels as a part of the project.

Access Humboldt Executive Director Sean Taketa McLaughlin said: “This pilot project is a both a timely pandemic response and a natural extension of our ongoing efforts to build a sustainable information ecosystem in our region. When local media empower residents to effectively participate in civic life directly addressing local needs and interests, diverse voices tell important stories, information is equally accessible, and the quality of life in our communities improves.”

Through Access Humboldt, the Community Voices Coalition will leverage the expertise of Internews, an international nonprofit organization that promotes citizen journalism locally and around the world. With roots in the region, Internews was eager to reinvest in the community and bring its global expertise back to the place where it first empowered local voices.

Access Humboldt and Internews will begin by creating a local advisory/editorial group to guide its project work and facilitate community listening and storytelling. Other communications and media partners, as well as citizen journalists, will be invited to participate. The project budget includes a fund to recruit and compensate story writers recruited for the project, as well as story translation services to better reach non-English speaking groups.

Luis Chabolla, Interim Director of Communications at the Foundation said: “We’re starting by building on the strengths of our partners and working together to stretch the reach and depth of the project. While launched as a three-month pilot, we hope the results will commit us and others to keep the project going.”

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