Why are we doing this? What can our fledgling non-profit news organization contribute to journalism for Birmingham and Alabama?
Those may be your first two questions if you are meeting BirminghamWatch, and its sponsor Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism, for the first time.
The why may be easiest to answer. We’ve listened to local citizens and journalists alike during the past year, and we’ve found passionate agreement. The city and state need more journalism that covers deeply and broadly stories that inform citizens about important issues. Alabamians need significant news reported in ways that value context, fairness and journalists’ time and talent. Expensive investigative and explanatory reporting must have new support as traditional news organizations, searching for their financial paths forward, do less of this work.
Alabama Initiative’s Birmingham Watch brings distinct strengths to the table. As a non-profit, it can focus clearly on public service journalism. It will seek out media partners, profit and non-profit, who recognize the value of such journalism and will help create and bring it to their audiences. It can build on the creativity of news nonprofits across the country that are tailoring technology to important journalistic ends. It will work to build support, in money and attention, for public service journalism.
Institute for Nonprofit News, a national coalition of news nonprofits, has members from a majority of states now. Birmingham and Alabama need the journalism ideas and energy of a non-profit news initiative too. We’ll look forward to working with you to make that happen.