A Wild Ride Gets Wilder… and #BlackLivesMatter
This week my partners Chris Faraone, John Loftus, and I mark two important anniversaries: Five years ago we founded the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and three years ago we separately acquired DigBoston. The first an innovative noncommercial organization dedicated to producing long-form investigative journalism and distributing it for free or cheap to community news outlets around the region (and sometimes the nation). The second a commercial newspaper—an alternative weekly with a storied 18-year history to that point.
After a huge amount of work, BINJ has blossomed into an outfit that is capable of producing news of all types while experimenting with organizing communities like Somerville to start to rebuild their collapsing news infrastructure. And DigBoston is still here. Going strong. When other newspapers like it have gone under. Due to a combination of social media giants eating their collective lunch by stealing their advertising revenue, media conglomerates buying them up and consolidating their operations while slashing their staffs, and now the tremendous negative economic and public health effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
A big reason our news enterprise continues plugging along when so many others have ceased to exist is because of our “hybrid economic model.” We run a nonprofit. And we separately run a for-profit. The two operations complement each other. Keeping us in motion, producing news day by day on both sides.
But the main reason both BINJ and DigBoston continue to help provide the broad array of Boston area communities we serve with the hard news and entertainment coverage they can’t find anywhere else is because both operations are directly supported by a growing legion of loyal readers. Who are donating money to both the nonprofit BINJ and the for-profit Dig—even though they can only get a tax write-off from the former.
During this greatest crisis faced by humanity in recent memory next to famine, war, and global warming, folks have really stepped up and showed us how much they appreciate our work. And we appreciate you all right back.
Most especially because the pandemic has also spawned an amazing movement for social justice: the second far-larger wave of the Black Lives Matter struggle for true equality for African-Americans and an end to institutional racism after over 400 years of oppression. We are only able to give that movement the kind of sympathetic on-the-ground coverage it deserves because of your support.
That’s what keeps us going through these difficult times. Doing our jobs as professional journalists in the service of all of Boston’s many neighborhoods. And in the service of democracy. Which relies on a strong independent press to keep on keeping on.
So we just wanted to use the opportunity of our twin anniversary to wish you all well. And hope that everyone stays safe and healthy as we find our way out of this avoidable disaster that a vicious and soulless federal government has stuck us with.
And to say one more thing that our regular audience has seen reflected in much of the reporting we’ve done in the last five years—and knows we stand for with all our hearts… with all the hearts of the wildly diverse and ever-growing crew of 150-plus journalists that work with us year in and year out: #BlackLivesMatter.
A version of this article also appeared as a DigBoston editorial.
Readers that would like to support our work can click here to donate to the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.
Jason Pramas is executive director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and executive editor and associate publisher of DigBoston.