Craig Aaron
President and CEO
Free Press
Washington, D.C.

Craig Aaron is the president and CEO of Free Press, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit group devoted to changing media and technology policy, promoting the public interest, and strengthening democracy. He speaks across the country on media, Internet and journalism issues. Craig is a frequent guest on TV and talk radio and is quoted often in the national press. His commentaries appear regularly in The Huffington Post, and he has written for The Daily Beast, The Guardian, The Hill, Politico, The Progressive, the Seattle Times, Slate and many others. Before joining Free Press, he was an investigative reporter for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch and the managing editor of In These Times magazine. He is the editor of two books, Appeal to Reason: 25 Years of In These Times and Changing Media: Public Interest Policies for the Digital Age.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
It’s not a quick fix, but I think we need to be talking about policy and structural changes that could actually support the journalism we need. And to get those, we need to be talking about organizing and engaging our audiences in that fight.

Gail Ablow
Broadcast & Digital Journalist
Bronx, New York

Gail Ablow is a freelance television documentary producer and digital storyteller. Until the beginning of this year, she was a staff member of Moyers & Company where she produced essays and interviews. Her beats have ranged from the economy to health-care reform, money in politics, and the environment. Her first collaboration with the Moyers team was the documentary series, On Our Own Terms: Moyers on Dying, followed by Earth on Edge and Kids and Chemicals, and then a staff producer position on Bill Moyers Journal.

Throughout her career Gail has produced documentaries, breaking news, and interviews for PBS, ABC, CNN and CNBC. Her efforts have earned 4 Emmy nominations, a Peabody Award, and an Edward R. Murrow Award. She departed briefly from broadcast journalism and wrote a children’s book, A Horse in the House: And Other True Animal Stories From The News, published in 2007. Gail was a 2004 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. She earned her master’s degree at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and her undergraduate degree at Harvard.

Bill Buzenberg
Former Executive Director
Center for Public Integrity
Fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy
Cambridge, MA

Bill Buzenberg became Executive Director of the Center for Public Integrity in January 2007. The Center is an investigative news organization based in Washington, D.C. with a 20-year track record and some 37 first-place national journalism awards. Buzenberg was Vice President of News for National Public Radio, as well as an NPR foreign affairs correspondent and London bureau chief from 1978-1997. He was responsible for launching Talk of the Nation, as well as the expansion of All Things Considered and the extension of NPR’s newscasts services to 24 hours a day. During his tenure, the NPR News Division was honored with 9 DuPont-Columbia University batons and 10 Peabody Awards.

He was also Senior Vice President of News at American Public Media / Minnesota Public Radio from 1998-2006 where he won his second DuPont-Columbia gold baton. Buzenberg launched American RadioWorks, public radio’s major documentary and investigative journalism unit, and Speaking of Faith, public radio’s signature program on religion. He also began Public Insight Journalism, an innovative use of technology to draw knowledge from the audience. A former Peace Corps volunteer, Buzenberg has been recognized for his work numerous times, including the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award, public radio’s highest honor.

He was co-editor of the memoirs of the late CBS News President Richard Salant (SalantCBS, and the Battle for the Soul of Broadcast Journalism). A graduate of Kansas State University, Buzenberg has also been awarded fellowships for his studies at the University of Michigan, the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, and the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Buzenberg left the Center in January 2015.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
Sustainable funding

Bill Densmore
Research Fellow
Reynolds Journalism Institute / InfoValet Project
Williamstown, MA

Bill Densmore, a consultant and researcher on the future and sustainability of journalism, is an expert on Internet information technologies and business models. He is a consulting fellow to the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) at the Missouri School of Journalism.  He is author of the white paper, “From Paper to Persona” and serves as director/editor of the New England News Forum. He’s a founding member and director of Journalism That Matters, Inc. and also serves on the boards of the New England Newspaper & Press Association and Shires Media Partnership, Inc.

Densmore also serves as director/editor of the Media Giraffe Project, launched in March 2005 at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, an ongoing effort to find and spotlight individuals making sustainable, innovative use of media (old and new) to foster participatory democracy and community.

In a career spanning news writing, journalism, publishing and entrepreneurship, Densmore has founded two technology companies. Amherst, Mass.-based Clickshare Service Corp. provides user registration, authentication, content access control and transaction services to Internet web content sites and publishers. CircLabs Inc. is a development-stage startup incubated as part of Densmore’s Information Valet Project at RJI. It’s testing service concepts for news personalization and customization, including the InfoValet Circulate Discovery Service.

A career journalist, Densmore has been an editor/writer for The Associated Press in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco and for trade publications in business, law, insurance and information-technology in Boston, Chicago and New York. He co-owned and published the Advocate newsweeklies for the Berkshires/southwestern Vermont, from 1983-1992. He has freelanced for The Boston Globe, National Public Radio and ComputerWorld Magazine.

Since 1995, he has been quoted and cited in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and other publications on Internet topics and has lectured on journalism issues at many universities and conferences. Densmore has also served as advertising director for a small, group-owned daily, editorial director for a chain of central Massachusetts weeklies; and as an interim director of the not-for-profit Hancock Shaker Village, a living-history museum.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
Developing a simple way for direct support beyond advertising, either a totally convenient micropayment system that respects trust and identity or a coordinated, nationwide system of public philanthropy and private donorship which provides for impact measurement.

Kevin Davis
Former CEO & ED of INN
Principal, KLJD Consulting
Bell Canyon, CA

Kevin Davis is the principal of KLJD Consulting, a strategic business & digital development practice specializing in assisting independent news & information companies and their leadership. Davis was formerly the inaugural CEO and Executive Director of the Investigative News Network (INN), now known as the Institute for Nonprofit News, a consortium of 100+ nonprofit newsrooms in the U.S.

At INN for the organization’s first five years of operation, Davis oversaw efforts to promote the sustainability of its member organizations, and increase the impact of the public service reporting through collaboration and digital distribution. As a publisher and digital business entrepreneur, Davis has over 20 years of experience in strategic development and growth at news and media organizations. Before joining INN, Davis was responsible for operations at Los Angeles-based news organizations, and

Davis has spoken and lectured about the nonprofit and independent journalism sector at conferences and institutions globally including at the Media Studies Program at the Stockholm School of Economics – Riga, Latvia and the Walkley Foundation’s Storyology Conference in Sydney, Australia. Domestically, Davis has spoken at the Online News Association, the Investigative Reporters & Editors, the National Alliance for Media Arts + Culture, and the National Federation of Community Broadcasters conferences. He has also guest lectured at the USC Annenberg School of Communication, Syracuse University, Ohio State University and the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he was the 2011 Hearst Professional-in-Residence.

The inventor of, a unique funding service for nonprofits and causes on social media, Davis regularly posts as a contributor to the Crowd Check column on

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
To achieve sufficient scale to be financially viable, while remaining authentic and present in the communities served.

Molly de Aguiar
Program Director, Media & Communications
Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
Morristown, NJ

Molly directs the Foundation’s media grants, which strengthen and expand New Jersey’s news and information ecosystem, support and experiment with collaboration and resource-sharing, and encourage deep community engagement throughout the state.

She also directs Dodge’s communications initiatives, exploring the intersections of philanthropy, communications, media and community building. She led the overhaul of the Dodge website and brand update, and continues to oversee special projects that shine a spotlight on Dodge grantees as well as promote the value and impact of philanthropy in New Jersey.

Prior to joining the Dodge staff in 2005, Molly spent 10 years working for arts and education nonprofits in Philadelphia and was active in independent media issues. She is a blogger, a list maker, a weekend baker, and an avid traveler with her family. Molly has a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
An ecosystem approach: building networks among news orgs as well as citizen journalists, encouraging collaboration among them, supporting training and innovation, and pressing for stronger community engagement.

Chris Faraone
News and Features Editor
Dig Boston
Boston, MA

Chris Faraone began his journalism career covering hip-hop in the early aughts. Writing for music publications like The Source and Spin led to reporting on social justice issues, and eventually to a staff gig at the Boston Phoenix. In five years there until its closing in 2013, Chris covered everything from local corruption and politics to technology and religion, won awards from both the New England Newspaper & Press Association (NENPA) and the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN), and gained national recognition for his work reporting at Occupy camps from coast to coast. In March 2012, he independently published his dispatches from the movement trail in his first book, 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, which was praised by The Economist and Columbia Journalism Review, among others.

With the Phoenix out of business, Chris appointed himself to a leadership role in the independent Boston media, writing a column for a regional newspaper group about the city’s first mayoral race in 20 years, and covering the bombing of the Boston Marathon for several area outlets as well as larger ones including The American Prospect and the BBC. Soon after, he accepted a position as the news and features editor of DigBoston, one of only two remaining AAN affiliates in New England, and has since helped restore the paper’s reputation. In two years at the Dig, Chris has developed and edited more than 50 investigative features, roughly half of which were by first-time long form writers. With his own research team, last year Chris published ‘Boston Trolling,’ a three-part series on eroding civil liberties that spurred international coverage and acclaim from the Electronic Frontier Foundation as one of the year’s top surveillance scoops.

An avid student of the American alt press, from Thomas Paine to Native American tracts and labor sheets, Chris is currently working to help keep the independent media alive in Boston. In addition to his work with the Dig, he volunteers to empower high school students through journalism, and is currently working to launch a nonprofit quarterly with new media components to provide much-needed critical coverage of the New England innovation economy. When he’s not busy with those projects, Chris has been traveling to the Pacific Northwest to report on militarized foreclosures and the war over natural resources in rural Oregon.

He also still covers music on occasion, and has written liner notes for hip-hop icons including Cypress Hill, Nas, and the Wu-Tang Clan. If there’s one thing he has learned from impugning the rap game, it’s to stay independent by any means necessary.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
Sustainable models, both for individuals and organizations.

Valeria Fernandez
Independent Journalist
Phoenix, AZ

Valeria Fernández is a bilingual (English-Spanish) documentary producer, journalist and storyteller that has been reporting on Arizona’s immigrant community and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands for over twelve years. Her career began in a small newsroom at La Voz Spanish newspaper where she developed an expertise on the intersection of state laws aimed at targeting immigrants and the complex federal policies that surround them. Her award-winning work cast a spotlight on racial profiling, public corruption, and discrimination against migrant women in jail.

In 2009, she became a multimedia freelancer, learning how to produce everything from short television news reports on mainstream CNN en Español to feature-length narratives in English. Working as a freelancer allowed her to do independent reporting in Guatemala, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay and Italy on subjects as varied as the legalization of marijuana to the aftermath of a tragic shipwreck with African refugees in Lampedusa, Italy in 2013.

Fernández works for CNN International and Al Jazeera English as a producer covering and uncovering stories on the surge of unaccompanied minor children, allegations of border patrol abuse, migrant kidnappings by drug cartels and the economic and environmental effects of a mine spill in Northern Mexico. Her work has been published in The Associated Press Spanish, Phoenix New Times, Salon, the Washington Post, New America Media and Al Jazeera Web. She also does work for Radio Bilingüe and is a contributor on PRI’s The World.

In 2012, she completed her first documentary, “Two Americans,” which contrasts the controversies alleging abuse of power in a local sheriff’s quest to arrest undocumented immigrants with the struggle of a 9-year-old girl, who is a U.S. citizen, trying to stop the deportation of her parents. As producer and co-director, she experienced the challenges of raising funds for an ambitious five-year-long independent film project. She managed to secure a commercial theatrical run and final broadcasting of “Two Americans” on Al Jazeera America in 2013.

In 2014, she co-directed, shot, produced and edited six-short films as part of the international web documentary “Connected Walls” on the life of people in the Arizona borderlands. The documentary won the Jury Award at the prestigious Belgian Millennium International Film Festival.

Fernández has been a mentor throughout the years for other multimedia journalists. She believes in independent journalism with a focus on investigative work, but is interested in developing new and alternative ways so it can be sustainable. She hopes to go beyond crowd funding and individual investment.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
Freelance journalists are the cornerstones of independent journalism. Therefore, any effort to foster independent journalism should begin with considering the needs of the freelancer. News organizations must respect freelancers by offering proper and timely remuneration to encourage fact-based in-depth original work. How can freelancers have the power of negotiation?

But the buck needn’t stop there. We must ensure that freelance journalists can create networks of support to help each other. If you set the bar too low, you’re setting it low for everybody else.
Support could come in the form of training and resources to handle the business aspects of their work: finances, healthcare, 401K, contracts, legal advice, etc. So that they can spend 100 percent of their time on doing journalism.

Funding is also crucial. Enterprise stories require reporting even before they can be pitched successfully. According to a survey by Project Word on Freelance Investigative Reporters, 84 percent of respondents subsidize their own investigative work. In order to truly support independent journalism, freelancers could benefit from getting access to “kick start” or “seed funding” to do preliminary research on a subject, as well as support to delve deeper into a particular aspect of an ongoing project. For example: Funding for data analysis, data visualizations or legal assistance for complex public record requests.

Michelle Garcia
Independent Journalist/Filmmaker
New York, NY

I am a columnist for The Texas Observer and a journalist reporting from New York City, Texas and Mexico, where I have covered stories related to violence, trauma, and organized crime. In 2014 I served as the Texas correspondent for the Columbia Journalism Review. I’m currently working on a narrative non-fiction book about the West, Texas, masculinity and myth.

Some of the material from the book will draw from my documentary film Against Mexico-the making of heroes and enemies, which was acquired by PBS Newshour featured Against Mexico as part of its 2012 election coverage. My video reports have appeared on, the multimedia site for the magazine. They include coverage of the violence in Ciudad Juárez, the construction of the border fence in South Texas and the plight of the Sahrawi refugees in the Sahara desert.

I have written for the Oxford American, Columbia Journalism Review, The Atlantic’s Quartz, Insight Crime, NACLA, Christian Science Monitor, Salon, The Nation, Sojourners, among others. In 2014, I was awarded a grant from the Nation Investigative Fund for a report on the dangers faced by journalists in Mexico. I wrote for The Washington Post from the paper’s New York bureau for three years. My essay, “On the Texas Borderline, a Solid, if Invisible, Wall” appeared in the Post’s Style section and became the inspiration for my documentary project, “Tell’em Who You Are,” which is a work in progress.

My journalism roots belong in public radio. I have reported for NPR’s Justice Talking, Day to Day, Latino USA and PRI’s The World, Marketplace and the Next Big Thing. Public radio documentaries include investigations into the spread of HIV/AIDS on the U.S.-Mexico border, women and violence in El Salvador and labor abuses in the post Katrina Gulf Coast. In 2006, I was awarded a Knight fellowship through the International Center for Journalists and assigned to work in El Salvador. I have taught at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism and delivered reporting workshops at numerous conferences and universities.

Jay Harris
Public Intelligence, Inc.
San Francisco, CA

Jay Harris is a publishing consultant specializing in the needs of media organizations with “hybrid” mixes of commercial and philanthropic revenues. His experience includes brand strategy, positioning, and audience and membership development for multi-channel media brands. Jay also serves as president of the board of Public Intelligence, Inc., the non-profit publisher of Jim Hightower’s Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter with 95,000 subscribers. Between 1991 and 2009, Jay was the publisher of Mother Jones, the investigative news organization, and president/CEO Mother Jones’ non-profit parent. Between 2012 and 2014, Jay served as publisher of The American Prospect, working with Editor-in-Chief Kit Rachlis on a turnaround of the venerable progressive policy journal.

Jay has served on the governing board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; on the board of IMAG, the independent magazine group of the Magazine Publishers of America; and as vice chair of the Independent Press Association. In 2006 Harris helped found The Media Consortium, an alliance of independent, progressive media working together across media platforms to extend the reach and impact of their journalism. In addition to his media work, Jay serves on the board of the First Amendment Coalition and the communications advisory board of Human Rights Watch. Before joining Mother Jones, Harris was an executive with Newsweek International in New York and Hong Kong. He lives in San Francisco.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
Business models and the development of non-traditional revenue

Peggy Holman
Executive Director
Journalism That Matters
Bellevue, WA

Peggy Holman is Executive Director of Journalism That Matters, a nonprofit she co-founded with three journalists to re-conceive news and information to support communities and democracy to thrive. As an author and consultant, Holman has helped explore a nascent field of social technologies that engage “whole systems” of people from organizations and communities in creating their own future. Holman has consulted with a range of organizations – business, nonprofit, government, and communities – on strategies for enabling diverse groups to face complex issues by turning presentation into conversation and passivity into participation. She has taught system change for the American University Master of Science in Organization Development program and for a doctoral program in Organization Development at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

In the second edition of The Change Handbook, Holman joins her co-authors to profile sixty-one innovative engagement processes used by organizations and communities to uncover creative responses to complex challenges. Her latest book, Engaging Emergence: Turning Upheaval into Opportunity, won the 2011 Nautilus Gold Book Award for Conscious Business/Leadership. A roadmap for tackling complex challenges, Engaging Emergence provides stories, principles, and practices for inviting people to come together and turn disruptions into possibilities.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
A clear path forward to support independent journalism that serves the needs of all communities and democracy.

Linda Jue
Executive Director/Editor
G.W. Williams Center for Independent Journalism
San Francisco, CA

Linda Jue is editor and executive director of the G.W. Williams Center for Independent Journalism, whose mission is to cultivate and support more public interest and investigative stories produced by journalists of color, women and youth. She was a founding editor, with Barbara Ehrenreich, of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, whose mission is to produce compelling stories that would “force this country’s crisis of poverty and economic insecurity to the center of the national conversation.”

In her past life, Linda was associate director and founding staff member of the Independent Press Association, a 500-member magazine organization, where she directed national journalism programs, including a subsidiary consortium of New York City ethnic media. Before going to the IPA, she directed San Francisco State University’s Community Press Consortium, the country’s first advanced professional training program for reporters and editors working in community and ethnic media.

Linda is a former associate of the Center for Investigative Reporting and a former editor at San Francisco Focus magazine. Her work has appeared in San Francisco Focus, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Toronto Globe and Mail, GEO, MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, PBS’ Frontline and other outlets. She has also worked as the Northern California correspondent for C-SPAN. She has won two Thomas Moore Storke International Journalism Awards and a Western Publishing Association award for excellence in feature writing.

Linda serves on the governance committee of the Investigative Reporters and Editors Association and sits on the board of California NewsReel. She served two terms as president of the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. She was a founding member and senior advisor of the Oakland-based Chauncey Bailey Investigative Reporting Project. She is a member of the Investigative News Network and The Media Consortium.

Jo Ellen Green Kaiser
Executive Director
The Media Consortium
San Francisco, CA

Jo Ellen Green Kaiser is the executive director of The Media Consortium. Passionate about mission-driven independent media, Jo Ellen has worked for a succession of independent magazines, including stints as Managing Editor and Associate Publisher of Tikkun, Publisher of LiP: Informed Revolt, and Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief of Zeek. She is driven by a belief that democratic societies thrive only when their members have access to accurate information and informed opinion.

A leading figure in Jewish media, Jo Ellen is an expert on the Jewish social justice movement. She is the co-editor of Righteous Indignation: A Jewish Response to Justice (Jewish Lights) and co-led the Righteous Indignation Project. She has written about Jewish social justice for a number of publications, including The Jewish Daily Forward, Sojourners, Tikkun and

Jo Ellen received a B.A. at Yale University (1984) and a Ph.D. in English from University of California, Berkeley (1992). She taught modern poetry, women’s studies and literary theory for six years at the University of Kentucky before leaving academia for media. Jo Ellen grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, and makes her home now in San Francisco.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
Begin the strategic planning required to ensure a strong and ongoing infrastructure for independent news.

Esther Kaplan
The Investigative Fund
New York, NY

Esther Kaplan is editor of The Investigative Fund, a project of The Nation Institute, where she has overseen projects that have garnered an Emmy, a Polk, a Scripps Howard Award, National Magazine Awards, an IRE Medal, and more.

She is a radio and print journalist who has written for Harper’s, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Nation, The American Prospect, The Village Voice, and other publications. She is the author of With God on Their Side: George W. Bush and the Christian Right (New Press), and was a 2013 fellow with the Alicia Patterson Foundation.

She was formerly a senior editor at The Nation, features editor at Poz, the award-winning national AIDS magazine, and communications director at Communications Workers of America Local 1180. She began her journalism career as an assistant editor at The Village Voice, where she became a regular contributor.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
Committed readers ready to pay for subscriptions or donate to public media; long-term, multi-year commitments from foundations and individual donors; support for a robust and diverse talent pipeline; and a commitment to maintaining high journalism standards during the era of the 24-hour news cycle and content churn.

Richard Logan
The Reva and David Logan Foundation
Chicago, IL

Richard Logan is dedicated to making a difference through innovative work in both the non-profit and commercial worlds. In addition to his twenty-five years as a founding executive with a UK-based Mac software company, Richard has been a hands-on funder/participant in projects across a wide range of disciplines worldwide. His efforts range from language preservation and archival restoration of historical papers to bettering outcomes for underserved schoolchildren to advancing independent media of all kinds – radio, film, investigative journalism, symposia and more. Coming to philanthropy with healthy skepticism and sharp business acumen, Richard is fired by the passionate belief that much needs to be done.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
The quality of the reporting, and also the realization that there is competition for every millisecond of our lives and for the contents of our wallets.

Juana Ponce de Leon
Director of Media Diversity Relations
NYC Council Speaker’s Office
New York, NY

Juana Ponce de León is Director of Media Diversity Relations for New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. She was brought in to the Council to help institutionalize a media outreach strategy that is inclusive, diverse, and that provides community media the same level of access to information that is available to mainstream news outlets.

Before joining the City Council, Juana had worked for close to two decades on providing resources and access to information for journalists in foreign- and English-language community media. In 2003, she became the editor of Voices That Must Be Heard, a pioneer online English-language platform for community news reported in English and other languages, published by the Independent Press Association-NY. In 2010, IPA-NY’s work continued as the New York Community Media Alliance with Juana as Executive Director. Three years later, the media alliance’s programs were transferred to CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism, where they form the core programs for its Center for Community and Ethnic Media.

Just before joining City Council, Juana was Associate Director of News Literacy and Diversity projects at Baruch College’s Journalism Department, where she helped develop training and professional internships for high school journalists and youth media editors, introducing them to the importance of the community media for hard-to-reach populations.

Prior to her work with community media, Juana was founding editor and director of Siete Cuentos Editorial, the Spanish-language imprint at Seven Stories Press, an independent publishing house in NYC. In 2000, it launched with the publication of the seminal Our Bodies, Ourselves, Nuestros cuerpos, nuestras vidas, side by side with literary fiction, and she established “Está en tus manos,” a series of small books that addressed health and immigration issues in Latino communities.

Juana is editor of Our Word is Our Weapon – Selected Writings of Subcomandante Marcos; Dream With No Name — Contemporary Cuban Fiction; and In Search of Common Unity, a book done for NGO Friends of the United Nations to celebrate the UN’s 50th anniversary. Her literary criticism appeared in many publications including the Village Voice Literary Supplement (VLS), The Washington Post, the NY Times Book Review, Multicultural Review, Latina, and Proceso.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
Outreach to community media and bring them into industry conversation.

Tracie Powell
Union, SC

TRACIE POWELL is the founder of All Digitocracy, a website about the intersection of media, diversity and technology. Tracie writes about the media and media policy, specifically on issues regarding piracy, media ownership, government transparency and the business of journalism for the Columbia Journalism Review and other publications. A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, she lives in Washington, DC. She has contributed to Poynter, NPR, and Publica, the first nonprofit investigative journalism center in Brazil.

She has spoken before the National Science Writers Association and the International Women’s Media Foundation providing expertise on digital media entrepreneurship and the impact of media on diverse communities and consumers. Tracie is also a member of the inaugural class of the ONA-Poynter Leadership Academy and the co-chair of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Digital Journalism Task Force.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?

Jennifer Preston
Vice President, Journalism Program
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Miami, FL

Jennifer Preston joined the Knight Foundation in October 2014. Previously, Preston was an award-winning journalist for The New York Times for almost 19 years, with broad experience as a digital journalist, reporter and senior editor. In 2009 she became the company’s first social media editor. In 2011 she returned to a reporting role where she focused on the impact of social media in politics, government, business and real life. Her most recent work as an editor focused on extending digital media and social media storytelling and curation across the newsroom.

Before becoming social media editor, Preston edited four Sunday weekend sections for the Metropolitan Desk, leading several innovative data projects, including a five-year analysis of the impact of mortgage foreclosures in the New York area. She also spent nearly seven years as a senior editor in the Office of the Executive Editor, working across the newsroom on budget, career development, diversity, newsroom policies and staffing.

Earlier in her career, Preston worked as an editor and circulation marketing manager at New York Newsday, where she won numerous awards for an investigative reporting project that examined the police use of deadly force by off-duty police officers in New York. She also worked in Philadelphia as a reporter for The Bulletin and The Philadelphia Daily News.

Since 2007 she has taught journalism, primarily at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. She frequently speaks about the role of social media in journalism at media and technology industry conferences.

Preston is the winner of several awards for reporting, including the New York Press Club’s Gold Typewriter Award for Public Service and the New York State Bar Association’s Award for investigative reporting. In November 2013, she shared an award from El Mundo in Madrid with Anthony DeRosa, former social media editor at Reuters, for their pioneering work in using social media for journalism.

In 2013, she was elected to the board of directors of the Online News Association, and Fast Company named her as one of the top 25 women to follow on Twitter. She is the author of “Queen Bess,” a biography of Bess Myerson.

Barbara Raab
Program Officer
Ford Foundation
New York, New York

Barbara Raab focuses on the development and support of high-quality, principled reporting in the United States, with an emphasis on social justice, a diversity of voices and press freedoms. Her work helps foster new and innovative models of reporting, as well as building and sustaining centers of journalistic excellence.

Before joining the foundation in 2014, Barbara was a senior member of the editorial leadership team at NBC News. As senior newswriter for NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, Barbara has covered every major news story for the past 15 years, and shared in journalism’s highest awards and honors. In 2013, she served as senior producer for “In Plain Sight,” NBC News’s Ford-funded multiplatform reporting effort on poverty in America, which was honored with the prestigious George Foster Peabody award.

Since 2008, Barbara has been an adjunct associate professor and coach at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She is a longtime volunteer leader in nonprofit and community organizations, and a frequent moderator and public speaker. Barbara earned her J.D. from New York University School of Law, and her bachelor’s degree from Brown University, where she is a member of the Pembroke Center for Research and Teaching on Women Associates Council.

Martin Reynolds
Senior Editor – Community Engagement
Bay Area News Group
Oakland, CA

Martin G. Reynolds is senior editor for community engagement for Bay Area News Group. He is co-founder of Oakland Voices, a community storytelling project that empowers residents to tell their stories and publishes their work across the Bay Area News Group cluster of sites and mobile platforms. He is the former editor-in-chief of the Oakland Tribune and was a lead editor on the Chauncey Bailey Project, formed to investigate the assassination of the Oakland Post editor and former Tribune reporter.

Reynolds has served as the national coordinator on three Voices expansions: in Jackson, MS, in partnership with the Clarion Ledger; in Sacramento, CA; and a series of Voices forums in Philadelphia that brought a cross-section of local media together to explore the coverage of black men in that city. Reynolds oversaw the development of the Oakland Effect project, a collaboration with The California Endowment to support an endowed reporting beat focused on exploring the impacts of violence and trauma on East Oakland. At the time it was developed, Oakland Effect was among the first endowed reporting beats in the nation.

Reynolds believes members of the community most often left out of the journalistic discussion should be seen by news organizations as collaborators, not merely consumers of news. As such, he is also working to develop a Voices alumni fund to help support the reporting efforts of graduates once they complete the program.

Reynolds is concerned about the growing use of analytics to determine coverage priorities and where resources are directed. He points to the voracious appetite for crime coverage and its disproportionate dominance on local news websites at a time when violent crime is decreasing. Reynolds sees the need to develop funding streams that protect coverage that may not drive traffic but that is vital to the community and society. As a board member of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, Reynolds is concerned about the lack of diversity in the investigative journalism space and sees a need for a greater emphasis on hiring and training of journalists of color to thrive in this area.

Reynolds lives in Oakland with his wife and their two kids. He loves boxing, bourbon, cooking and the 49ers.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
Training and legal support for independent journalists so they can compete with the big boys.

Iván Román
Communications Consultant
Former executive director, National Association of Hispanic Journalists
Cheverly, MD

Iván Román is a communications consultant in Washington D.C. who has focused most recently on immigration reform and guest workers’ rights to counter abuse and exploitation, discrimination against immigrants and undocumented children in schools, and the importance of arts and humanities education in the futures of inner-city and immigrant children.

Up until late 2011, Roman spent eight years as Executive Director of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists advocating for a larger and more influential presence of Latinos in the country’s newsrooms, more quality coverage of Latinos by the media, and for media policy issues that have a direct impact on fairness, equality and social justice.

Under his leadership, NAHJ led the fellow organizations of journalists of color to take strong positions for true net neutrality and against media consolidation and media mergers that proved detrimental to the Latino community. He also guided the organization’s more recent shifting priorities toward increased digital and entrepreneurial training for journalists who opted to turn towards freelance work and self-employment during the news industry’s major transition.

In his 17 years at five newsrooms in Miami, Puerto Rico and upstate New York, Román focused on covering communities of color and immigrants at the neighborhood level and projecting their voices on the national political stage. He tailored racial, ethnic and cross-ethnic beats in the U.S. and abroad for some newsrooms and almost exclusively explored the stories of the poor and the marginalized.

That focus led him to clash with authorities about police brutality in Rochester, New York, run from an angry mob during race riots on the streets of Miami, and dodge rubber bullets and be doused with tear gas amidst the social upheaval in Caracas. By the time he left his last newsroom job as San Juan Bureau Chief for the Orlando Sentinel in 2003 to assume the helm at NAHJ, his journalism career had featured assignments and standing beats in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Panama and Venezuela.

In the late 90’s, Román was executive director of the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism at San Francisco State University. Under his leadership, the Center created the Community Press Consortium, the country’s first advanced professional training program for reporters and editors working in community and ethnic media.

Román is an avid reader of cultural anthropology, religious and intellectual history and historical fiction. Like many Nuyoricans of the 1970’s, he loves salsa, boogaloo and the Jackson Five and has been known to shake it on the dance floor. He is happiest when 10 different smooth aged rums from the Caribbean, Central and South America call his liquor cabinet their home.

Robert Rosenthal
Executive Director
The Center for Investigative Reporting
Emeryville, CA

Robert J. Rosenthal is executive director of The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR). An award-winning journalist, Rosenthal has worked for decades as a reporter, foreign correspondent, editor and executive editor for some of the most respected newspapers in the country, including The New York Times, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Since joining CIR in January 2008 the organization has grown tenfold and has consistently evolved, pivoted and been bold in its ability to try new approaches melding investigative reporting, storytelling, and engagement. CIR’s culture is collaborative and inclusive. CIR believes in sharing its practices and learnings and wants to help answer the question for all of how to best capture, measure and track the impact of public service journalism. Rosenthal believes that the ability to tell that story is crucial for all of our sustainability.

Rosenthal worked for 22 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer, starting as a reporter and eventually becoming its executive editor in 1998. He became managing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle in late 2002 and joined CIR as executive director in 2008. Before joining the Inquirer in 1979, Rosenthal worked as a reporter for six years at The Boston Globe and three-and-a-half years at The New York Times, where he was a news assistant on the foreign desk and an editorial assistant on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Pentagon Papers project.

As a reporter, Rosenthal won numerous awards, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in international reporting and has been a Pulitzer Prize judge four times. He has been an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
Sustainability; marketing and educating the public about the role we play in our democracy.

Ricardo Sandoval-Palos
President, Board of Directors
Fund for Investigative Journalism
Washington, DC

Ricardo Sandoval-Palos is president of the board of the Fund for Investigative Journalism, which supports independent journalists through competitive grants. Sandoval-Palos is a veteran investigative journalist and editor. He is now a supervising editor with Morning Edition, National Public Radio’s flagship news magazine show.

Before joining NPR, he edited international investigations for the Center for Public Integrity. From 1997 to 2006, Sandoval-Palos was a Latin America correspondent, covering crime, conflict and business for the Dallas Morning News and Knight Ridder Newspapers. Over the years he’s contributed to the likes of Salon, the Stanford Social Innovations Review Quarterly and UC Berkeley’s Center for Latin American Studies.

Sandoval-Palos has won numerous awards, including top honors for investigative work from the Overseas Press Club, the Inter-American Press Association and the Loeb Awards for Business Journalism. He is co-author of the biography The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Movement.

Julie Schwietert Collazo
Freelance Journalist
New York, NY

Julie Schwietert Collazo is a bilingual (English-Spanish) freelance journalist who covers Latin America (especially Cuba, Mexico, and Puerto Rico) and Latino/a communities in the United States for a wide variety of print and online outlets, among them Foreign Policy, MS., National Geographic Traveler, the AP-affiliate Latin Correspondent, and FOX News Latino. She’s responsible for covering Latin American media and digital innovation for, the website of The International Center for Journalists.

Julie has been experimenting and innovating a number of other media projects, both those intended for readers and those intended for freelancers. Among these are the just-launched food/travel anthropology website, Cultures & Cuisines (a paying outlet for writers). This year alone, she has also organized and facilitated workshops at various conferences and universities on the following topics: “Moms Who Write & Writers Who Mom: How to Have a Kick-ass Career & Be a Kick-ass Mom”, (she has three kids under the age of 5); “From Travel Writing to Travel Journalism: Seeing & Reporting on Multiple Dimensions of Place”; and “How to Report on Cuba (Responsibly)”.

Julie is also deeply interested in how independent journalists like her fund and report projects with and without institutional support, and to that end, has been experimenting with the Contributoria platform since the fall of 2014. She writes a blog offering advice and resources for freelancers and she is involved in a number of other funding projects in journalism, including the listings for MediaBistro’s “How to Pitch” service.

Julie is an award-winning journalist who has lived in Puerto Rico and Mexico and who returns to both countries at least four times a year to report on these areas. She is co-author of Pope Francis in His Own Words, an Italian bestseller that has been translated into more than 15 languages.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?

Stephen Silha
CEO, Frisky Divinity Productions
Vashon, WA

Stephen Silha is a freelance writer, filmmaker, facilitator, and futurist.  A former reporter for The Christian Science Monitor and The Minneapolis Star, he has worked with Corporate Philanthropy Report, Children’s Express News Service, Libraries for the Future, Yes! Magazine and Good News/Good Deeds: Citizen Effectiveness in the Age of Electronic Democracy.  He was first communications director for the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and helped organize the first summit on the Media and Philanthropy at the Chicago Tribune in 1987.

A freelance writer for over 30 years, he is past president of the now-defunct Washington News Council, a forum for media fairness.  He is a co-founder of Journalism That Matters, a conversational think-and-do tank on the future of journalism held across the country which spurred over 25 experiments in the emerging news and information ecology. He has served on the faculty of the Institute for Creative Development, and co-facilitated youth-adult dialogues on Vashon Island, WA, where he lives.

His first feature documentary, BIG JOY: The Adventures of James Broughton, about one of his mentors, has traveled to 44 festivals and won several awards. His current documentary project is about the Minnesota Experimental City, a techno-futuristic city planned but never built in the 1960’s and 70’s.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
Finding a way for independent journalists to jump on stories that matter.

Michael Stoll
Executive Director and Editor
San Francisco Public Press

Michael Stoll is executive director and editor of the San Francisco Public Press, a nonprofit, noncommercial news organization that produces in-depth reporting projects on public policy and spotlights important local stories in other public media. He has been a reporter at the Hartford Courant, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Francisco Examiner, and has written freelance for Columbia Journalism Review, Earth Island Journal, SF Weekly, San Francisco Magazine, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Quill, the Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times. He has taught journalism at two local universities, and from 2003 to 2006, researched media ethics at

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
• We need to put more of an emphasis on investigative reporting, beyond the daily coverage that repeats what the mainstream media have already reported. This will aid our mission of filling the void that legacy media leave in terms of public-service accountability journalism.
• We need more advocacy for local sources of funding, including local foundations, for local nonprofit news production.
• There is leadership potential among the local news entrepreneurs, who have more experience than anyone in what it takes to expand the sector. This needs to be encouraged. Ideas must filter up from this community.

Richard Tofel
New York, NY

Richard Tofel was the founding general manager of ProPublica from 2007-2012, and became president on January 1, 2013. He has responsibility for all of ProPublica’s non-journalism operations, including communications, legal, development, finance and budgeting, and human resources. He was formerly the assistant publisher of The Wall Street Journal and, earlier, an assistant managing editor of the paper, vice president, corporate communications for Dow Jones & Company, and an assistant general counsel of Dow Jones. More recently, he served as vice president, general counsel and secretary of the Rockefeller Foundation, and earlier as president and chief operating officer of the International Freedom Center, a museum and cultural center that was planned for the World Trade Center site.

He is the author of “Non-Profit Journalism: Issues Around Impact” (2013), “Why American Newspapers Gave Away the Future” (Now and Then Reader, 2012), “Eight Weeks in Washington, 1861: Abraham Lincoln and the Hazards of Transition” (St. Martin’s, 2011), “Restless Genius: Barney Kilgore, The Wall Street Journal, and the Invention of Modern Journalism” (St. Martin’s, 2009); “Sounding the Trumpet: The Making of John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address” (Ivan R. Dee, 2005), “Vanishing Point: The Disappearance of Judge Crater, and the New York He Left Behind” (Ivan R. Dee, 2004) and “A Legend in the Making: The New York Yankees in 1939” (Ivan R. Dee, 2002).

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
Business models and funding

Sarah van Gelder
Editor in Chief
YES! Magazine
Bainbridge Island, WA

Sarah van Gelder is co-founder and editor in chief of YES! magazine, an award-winning quarterly print magazine and website that reports on grassroots innovations and creative responses to the big social, environmental, and economic challenges of our time. Sarah leads the development of the magazine’s signature themes, most recently on the topics of undoing centuries of racism and on cities as the source of the nation’s leading social and environmental innovations.

Sarah is the editor of the new YES! book, Sustainable Happiness: Live Simply, Live Well, Make a Difference and This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99 Percent Movement. She writes and speaks on such topics as the new economy, climate solutions, happiness, and alternatives to prison. In addition to YES!, her work appears in the Guardian, Huffington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and Alternet. She has published in-depth interviews with George Shultz, Pete Seeger, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Naomi Klein, Ralph Nader (along with conservative commentator Daniel McCarthy), Muhammad Yunus, and the founders of Idle No More.

Sarah is a frequent guest on radio and television, including Markeplace, PBS Newshour, Democracy Now, and Thom Hartmann Show.

Sarah lives on the Suquamish Tribe’s reservation, where she collaborated with tribal leaders to secure the return of the land where Chief Seattle lived. She participates in the annual inter-tribal canoe journey and is a member of the board of the tribally chartered Suquamish Foundation. She has lived in India, China, and Central America, and was a founding board member and resident of Winslow Cohousing, the first member-developed cohousing community in the United States.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
Independence, especially independent resources to support in depth reporting.

Chancellar Williams
Program Officer
Open Society Foundations
New York, NY

Chancellar Williams is a program officer with U.S. Programs at Open Society Foundations where he manages the journalism and media and technology policy portfolios for the Democracy Fund.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
A sustainable business model that is not reliant on foundation funding. Innovation.

Jeff Yang
Wall Street Journal Online
New York, NY

Jeff Yang is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal Online, and a frequent contributor to CNN, NPR and Quartz, the business publication of The Atlantic Monthly. He is a veteran communications professional whose career in media and marketing has spanned over a decade and a half, and included multiple successful media and marketing startups. He was the founder of aMagazine: Inside Asian America, which grew into Asian America’s largest and most influential English-language media institution, and of, one of the first Asian American content and community sites on the web.

Yang is Senior Vice President and Head of Multicultural Insights at the leading trends and futures consultancy The Futures Company, a subsidiary of WPP. Prior to joining TFC, he spent seven years as Vice President and principal global strategist at Iconoculture, where he directed the company’s research activities in Greater China, Japan and Korea. His research focus includes such topics as the use of mobile and social networks among younger generations, the social impact of technology, and the shifting nature of identity, both on and offline.

For seven years, Yang wrote Asian Pop, a biweekly column on Asian and Asian American media, entertainment, technology and culture for the San Francisco Chronicle; in October 2011, he launched a new weekly column, Tao Jones, for the Wall Street Journal Online. He is a frequent contributor to WNYC radio, as a pundit on PRI’s “The Takeaway” and as “Pop & Politics” correspondent for “The Brian Lehrer Show.”

Yang has authored and edited a number of bestselling books, including Eastern Standard Time; I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action (the international action hero’s official autobiography); Once Upon a Time in China; the graphic novel collection Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology; and Volume two of Secret Identities, titled Shattered.

Yang lives in Brooklyn, New York. His older son, Hudson Yang, is the star of the groundbreaking ABC TV series Fresh Off the Boat, which just completed its initial season as the first Asian American family sitcom on primetime network TV in over 20 years.

What do you see as most critical to address for independent journalism to thrive?
Sustainable business model