Nothing about the past year has been particularly easy for anyone.
It has been an especially difficult passage for journalists working in local newsrooms. It is at these moments, when our world is in the midst of a crisis, we ask the most of local newsies. It is a time more than any other when clear, unbiased, factual reporting is essential to our democracy’s wellbeing.
It’s also a year when we find ourselves more thankful than ever to live and work in the Grand Traverse region.
We continue to work against financial headwinds that have slashed local newspapers from more than 1,000 communities nationwide, ripping more than 35,000 pairs of journalists boots from communities like ours since 2008.
Yet, thanks to our readers and supporters, things are different here. Your support, community support, has helped the Traverse City Record-Eagle maintain northern Michigan’s single largest newsroom. And it will help us grow our newsroom and coverage footprint in 2021 as other news organizations in the region buckle under the weight of the ongoing economic crisis.
We are committed to serving our communities, and have spent the past two years finding new ways to bolster our efforts.
In 2020, we were selected by Report for America to become a partner newsroom with the nationwide nonprofit journalism service organization. We entered that partnership with RFA reassured by the notion that our community values and supports strong, cornerstone journalism. We knew you would help us meet RFA’s local financial match requirement (RFA grants us half the salary of a local reporter and asks our community to fund the remainder).
And support you did. During the first six months of our RFA partnership, donors from across the Grand Traverse region have contributed more than $13,000 toward our $20,000 local match requirement. That money directly funds the salary of RFA Data Journalist Kaye LaFond.
Your outpouring was so robust, we felt confident asking RFA to expand its commitment to our community by granting us a second reporter position — the state’s only full-time Indigenous affairs journalist — starting in June 2021.
We are both thankful and optimistic because of your support.
Not many (fewer than 170 communities nationwide) were granted partnerships with RFA in 2020, let alone chosen to receive a pair of precious reporting grants in 2021. Yet, the Grand Traverse region will benefit from the work of two additional journalists in the coming years thanks to your support.
So, we end a most difficult year not remembering the hurdles we crossed during the past 12 months, but, counting the blessings that surround us.
Thank you for supporting local journalism.