An impressive $2,580 in public support came in this week. We can hire a new quarter-time reporter when we get to $5,000.
In nonprofit fundraising, one is always looking for signs of public financial support. Because that’s an important way that charities like our Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism determine whether we’re providing useful services to our communities of interest or not.
Which is why we feel like Somerville residents sent us a strong positive signal by donating $2,580 immediately after the release of my editorial last Friday explaining that BINJ will need to put our Somerville Wire news service on hiatus for the next few months while we try to raise the $15,000 we need to pay a quarter-time reporter for another year.
Given that, we think it’s worth taking the risk of hiring a new Wire reporter sooner than planned if we can raise another $2,420—for an initial total of $5,000. Enough to pay a quarter-time contractor for four months while we work to raise another $10,000 to provide the rest of the necessary funds.
If Somervillians can donate a grand total of $15,000 this year, then it’s quite likely that local residents will be able to do the same thing next year … and the year after that … and so on. Meaning that the Somerville Wire—at a modest level but raising enough money to do the job we designed it to do—will be sustained by the community it serves with professionally produced journalism going forward. Thus demonstrating that the community understands that local news is so vital to local democracy that residents will cover the cost of its provision.
In a nation where local news outlets are still going out of business every week, that would be an important achievement. It would also tell us that the Somerville Wire is precisely the kind of initiative that other communities can replicate. Which has remained the overarching purpose of our Somerville News Garden project from whence the Wire emerged: To help create a model that communities around the US can use to make sure their denizens have the information they need. Communities that are either on their way to becoming “news deserts”—like this one, where only the Somerville Times and hopefully the Wire are left as Gannett’s and Patch’s local operations fade away—or have already lost all of their professional local news outlets.
So we encourage Somerville Wire readers to donate whatever you can to get us past the $5,000 mark (by clicking any of the links in this missive). And once you do, we’ll recruit a new quarter-time reporter and resume our weekly publication schedule again. Thanks very much for anything you can spare toward the goal of keeping this community-funded local journalism going in Somerville—inspiring other communities to do the same in the process.
Image credit: “Transparent_flag_with_question_mark” by Wikimedia Commons. GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 Wikimedia Commons. Collage with question mark symbol and Somerville wire logo by Jason Pramas for the Somerville Wire.
Jason Pramas is executive director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and editor of the Somerville Wire.