In this guest post, the Joyce Foundation’s Director of Communications Bill Strong explains how a new investment helps to support collaboration among local news outlets.
Joyce joins the McCormick Foundation in supporting INN’s Amplify News-Midwest, a news distribution, placement and partnership hub working to expand the reach and impact of news coverage from Midwestern communities. Briefly stated, the concept is to make it easier for many of the smaller state and local and regional nonprofit newsrooms supported by MIF members to share content and increase their visibility, both regionally and nationally.

While this idea of a technology-enhanced collaboration was hatched well before the 2016 presidential election, there’s greater national interest these days in news from the heartland.
“We are at a unique inflection point: the growing concentration of media on the East Coast is leaving news from the middle of the country thinly covered for national audiences,” says INN Executive Director and CEO Sue Cross. “At the same time, coverage of critical public affairs and regional issues increasingly comes from small, nonprofit newsrooms with specialized skills and local knowledge—newsrooms that may lack resources to widely share their news given the complexity of technology and distribution channels today. Amplify is designed to help span that gap.”

While this convergence of events makes the Midwest the ideal place to launch this pilot project, INN hopes if the concept proves out, the technology-enhanced collaboration can be replicated in other regions.

Amplify will launch in mid-June with one editor/director, based in Chicago—a job opening posted by INN in mid-May. When hired, the editor/director will recruit participants and establish relationships with regional and national media contacts and line up distribution channels. Amplify also will serve as a central point for large platforms, public media and other national media to connect with local outlets.

The group is seeking additional funding to strengthen tech systems that can facilitate sharing, such as use of distribution databases, media monitoring software, and improved content feed structures, metadata, and common archiving. These kinds of infrastructure improvements, says Cross, “can improve the effective reach of every story from participating newsrooms.”
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About the Author
Jessica Clark

Jessica Clark

Research Consultant

Jessica is a research consultant for Media Impact Funders, and the founder and director of media production/strategy firm Dot Connector Studio. She is also currently a senior fellow at the Norman Lear Center’s Media Impact Project. Previously, she served as the media strategist for AIR’s groundbreaking Localore project, the director of the Future of Public Media project at American University’s Center for Media and Social Impact, and a Knight Media Policy Fellow at D.C.-based think tank the New America Foundation. Over the past decade, she has led research and convenings with high-profile universities and national media networks, including NPR, PBS, Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, MIT, and USC’s Annenberg School for Communication. She is the co-author of Beyond the Echo Chamber: Reshaping Politics Through Networked Progressive Media (The New Press, 2010), and a longtime independent journalist.