Houston, We Have a Story to Tell (About the Little News Group That Could)

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Tuesday, June 11, 2019, 11:27 am
Mark Meyer

East Lansing Info Publisher Alice Dreger (inset above) will deliver the good news of ELi’s successful fundraising campaign and more when she travels to Houston this week to participate in a panel discussion at the annual Institute for Nonprofit News’ INN Days, a two-day conference centered on intensive business training for nonprofit, independent news organizations looking to achieve growth and increase their impact.

Dreger is part of a one-hour “lightning panel” Wednesday in which five presenters each have five minutes to discuss their NewsMatch 2018 fundraising campaign and the type of tactics and strategies they employed to make it work.

Each of the five speakers represents a news organization that covers a particular region or community. In addition to Dreger, the other “Newsmatch – The Local Perspectives” panelists are Joe Livernois, founding editor of Voices of Monterey Bay (Salinas, Calif.); Laurie Milford, development director of High Country News (Paonia, Colo.); Teresa Martin, executive director of Lower Cape TV (Eastham, Mass.); and Asraa Mustufa, digital editor of the Chicago Reporter.

Day One of the conference focuses on NewsMatch’s national matching-gift campaign and its ability to grow fundraising capacity in nonprofit newsrooms and promote giving to journalism among U.S. donors. Thursday’s theme, for Day Two, is “Building the Business Skills That Sustain News.”

Dreger says she is particularly interested in two sessions: “How Diversity and Trust Intersect: A Workshop in Inclusive Audience Development” and “In Defense of Audacious Goals,” a presentation by the Threshold team, which runs a podcast and radio show dedicated to covering complex environmental topics. (INN is providing Dreger with a $500 travel stipend and free conference registration, and she is personally covering the rest of the trip expenses as part of her annual financial contribution to the ELi team.)

NewsMatch donation capped flurry of fundraising

For almost five years, East Lansing Info (ELi) has been providing the people of East Lansing with real, nonpartisan, nonprofit news. Equally important, it has become a model for how small American cities can give themselves news – and for how a local news organization can engage a whole community in the understanding of why journalism matters to democracy.

ELi earned the invitation to the conference by raising $25,000 through NewsMatch in the last two months of 2018. In total, ELi’s year-end Sustainability Campaign exceeded its goal of $80,000 in donations and auto-pay commitments, including the NewsMatch funding.

“It was pretty remarkable for an organization our size and for it being our first time in NewsMatch,” Dreger said. “The reason we can raise this kind of money from this many donors is because we are a true community newspaper.

“We are of the people, by the people, and for the people, and the people want to keep doing this. They get that we don’t want to live without real news of our city and community.”


Want to help sustain ELi’s work for this community? Contribute today!



[AD1]I deleted “2019” because both “annual” and “2019” sounded funny to me.

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