Category Archives: Action Summaries

Explore Acquiring a Legacy Media Outlet

Some Pocantico participants decided to explore the acquisition of legacy media outlets that have continued to be profitable even though there have been year-over-year declines. They will initially focus on a local newspaper with deep roots in a community, but there could be other opportunities.

They will be assessing the viability of this approach and doing the necessary research to see what might be a legacy media outlet ripe for this, why previous proposals of this type succeeded or failed, and what information and potential funders or investors would be needed to come up with a plan.

The goal is to improve the quality of local news by changing the mission from just making money to enrich for-profit companies to supporting and sustaining journalism and community information, more in line with parts of the independent journalism ecosystem.


Taking the lead on this effort:

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

Michael Stoll, Executive Director and Editor, San Francisco Public Press

Others who pledged to help in the effort:

Kevin Davis, MakingNews.Biz, formerly of Investigative News Network (INN)

Craig Aaron, President and CEO, FreePress

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

Michelle Garcia, freelance journalist and filmmaker

For more details, please refer to:


Complete an Audit of Independent Journalism Workers

Some Pocantico attendees said a grant-funded audit of journalism workers by an entity with credibility in the journalism industry, such as Neiman or Poynter, needs to be completed to document and expose (1) freelance reporter/producer pay, rights, protections, benefits; and (2) staff reporter/producer pay, benefits, workload and productivity.

Action-Audit The audit would detail all of these working conditions as well as document how these hamper the quality of the journalism being produced. The level of diversity among freelancers vis-à-vis staff journalists could also be assessed and the reasons for that.

The aim is for the audit to be completed by late 2016.

Volunteers to see this through are:

  • Jeff Yang, Columnist, Wall Street Journal online
  • Esther Kaplan, Editor, The Investigative Fund, The Nation Institute
  • Valeria Fernandez, independent journalist
  • Ricardo Sandoval-Palos, President Board of Directors, Fund for Investigative Journalism


June 30 – Identify potential partner/sponsor

  1. Poynter, Pew, Glassdoor – Jeff Yang will contact
  2. Journalism schools – Valeria Fernandez will contact
  3. Knight at Stanford, Fund for Investigative Journalism, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Nieman Fellowships, other journalism schools – Ricardo Sandoval-Palos will contact
  4. The Nation Institute – Esther Kaplan will contact

July 30 – Outreach, gauge interest, build budget and plans – Jeff Yang and Ricardo Sandoval-Palos

September – Blueprint and Team, Phase 1, 2, and 3 – Esther Kaplan, Valeria Fernandez, Jeff Yang, Ricardo Sandoval-Palos

December – Funding, Phase 1

Fall 2016 – Audit and Delivery

For more details, please refer to Not Free As In Beer or Free As In Speech, Free As In Lance: Is Organizing Independent Journalists A Game Changer?

Explore New Potential Sources of Revenue for Independent Journalism

It was clear for many that the challenge of figuring out how to get more individual, philanthropic and government/public support for independent journalism would take more discussion and experiments in the future, and the recruitment of more allies to make progress.

Some of the Pocantico attendees committed to moving ahead immediately on five areas regarding revenue. The volunteers are:

  • Craig Aaron, President and CEO, FreePress
  • Jay Harris, President, Public Intelligence Inc., formerly with Mother Jones
  • Richard Tofel, President, ProPublica
  • Linda Jue, Executive Director/Editor, G.W. Williams Center for Independent Journalism
  • Molly de Aguiar, Program Director, Media & Communications, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
  • Kevin Davis, KLJD Consulting, formerly with Investigative News Network (INN)
  • Esther Kaplan, Editor, The Investigative Fund, The Nation Institute

They have agreed to do the following in the near future.

Working group. Establish a working group on revenue development. Members are Craig Aaron, Linda Jue, Kevin Davis, and Jay Harris.

Match for political spending. Initiate an effort to connect with the Democracy Alliance to explore the idea of persuading donors to political campaigns, especially those appalled by current campaign spending madness, to commit to contributing $1 to “fighting and fixing” the problem (efforts that include journalism) for every dollar they contribute to political races. Volunteers working on this: Richard Tofel, Esther Kaplan and Jay Harris.

Government/public funding. Some of the participants decided to start a process now of discussing and advocating for public funding, acknowledging that it could take 5-10 years to get anywhere. Craig Aaron will lead that discussion.

Community foundations. Volunteers will initiate efforts to get independent journalism on the radar of community foundations, ultimately to cultivate them as potential sources of revenue. Down the road, the effort might involve delegations of journalists and community leaders as the focus increases on this relatively untapped resource.

Branding campaign. Develop idea of a branding campaign for independent journalism (c.f., the “Red” campaign). Kevin Davis.

For more information, please refer to:


Create a Convening of ALL Independent News Media

A committee of the Pocantico participants agreed to convene a conference of independent, community and ethnic and foreign-language media in spring 2016 to connect these colleagues, and facilitate, disrupt and create explosive collaborations that will transform what people believe is news and explore how working together can mutually strengthen them all.

The conference would be a way to break down the silos most in these sectors are in, strengthen the flow of information between different members of these sectors, smooth the pathways for editorial collaborations, and create a peer-to-peer network for sharing business ideas and funders.

It also seeks to create concrete ways for community media to expand their voices and specific action steps for them to step up to another level in business practice.

The committee envisions a conference that would principally invite editors and publishers of foreign-language, black, Hispanic, and other media associations and outlets by and for people of color, along with editors and publishers who belong to The Media Consortium, the Association of Alternative Newspapers (AAN), the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), the Alliance for Community Media (ACM), the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB), the Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION), and freelance journalists and media associations.

Participants who committed to this effort and to recruiting others to be involved in making this happen are:

  • Jo Ellen Green Kaiser, Executive Director, The Medium Consortium
  • Juana Ponce de León, Director of Media Diversity Relations, NYC Council Speaker’s Office, formerly with the NY Independent Press Association
  • Chris Faraone, News and Features Editor, DigBoston
  • Richard Logan, President, The Reva and David Logan Foundation.

They aspire to get 1) funding to visit several communities around the country to get journalists from these media outlets to buy in to the idea and attend, 2) sponsorship for the actual conference, and 3) funding for post-conference activities, such as editorial collaborations and other joint planning work on infrastructure, training and other areas.

Timeline and Commitments:

May 2015:     Identify hosts for the conference (talk esp to CUNY and NAM) and potential stage 1 funders—Jo Ellen and Juana

June 2015      Grow Committee to represent all stakeholders—Jo Ellen, Juana, Chris

June 2015    Separately, Jo Ellen to set up quarterly meeting of heads of independent news organizations: June, Sept, Dec, March

June 2015      Write proposal for Stage 1 funding –Jo Ellen, Chris, Richard to review

July-Oct 2015   Travel to different communities to talk to local community media about what would bring them to a national conference—Jo Ellen plus organizer (hopefully from foreign language media)

Aug 2015      Set conference date; Set conference location; Create conference website; Identify venue—Jo Ellen with input from committee.

Sept-Dec 2015    Sell sponsorships and exhibit areas for conference—tbd; Plan program—Committee to be formed; Write proposal to funders for travel money and for post-conference work.

Dec-Feb 2016     Marketing campaign to bring as many individuals as possible to conference; Continue to sell sponsorships, etc.; Plan strategy for post-conference projects.

Feb-Apr 2016     Conference

May 2016     Follow-up tbd by what happens during pre-conference planning and conference itself.

For more information, please refer to Create a Convening of ALL Independent News Media