'Community News Collaborative' Launches to Expand Local News Coverage

The project will create print, video and audio content for syndication to more than a dozen news outlets across the Gulf Coast.

By Staff September 12, 2022

The Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation and WUSF Public Media have announced the launch of a journalism collaboration that will substantially expand coverage of news in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties.

Entitled the Community News Collaborative (CNC), the project launches today through a donation of nearly $600,000 from the Barancik Foundation to finance the hiring of an editor and four multimedia reporters who will create print, video, and audio content for syndication to more than a dozen news outlets across the Gulf Coast.

“Journalism is the lifeblood of a functioning democracy and a civic-minded population,” says the Barancik Foundation’s president and CEO Teri A. Hansen. “Yet the economic environment faced by today’s local media is challenging their ability every day to report on community stories. We aim to address that problem head on by adding new resources to cover important topics that affect our communities.”

Since 2004, nearly 2,000 newspapers have closed their doors, and since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, more than 6,000 news workers have lost their jobs, according to a tally by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

As the new project launches, these journalists will cover a range of topics that could include grassroots school coverage, environmental stories, social justice reporting, coverage of underrepresented communities, reports on affordable housing, and stories on the efforts of the region’s burgeoning nonprofit community. These efforts seek to make Southwest Florida a better place to live, work, and raise a family.

The news team will be based in Sarasota as part of the WUSF newsroom and provide news articles and multi-media packages to a series of other news outlets across the region. WUSF 89.7 is the National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate licensed to the University of South Florida and is part of WUSF Public Media, which also operates Classical WSMR 89.1 and 103.9.

“We’re grateful for the tremendous commitment the Barancik Foundation is making in the future of journalism,” says WUSF general manager JoAnn Urofsky. “We look forward to creating more capacity at other local news organizations in service of creating a stronger more informed community. The WUSF 89.7 newsroom has a long history of collaborating with public radio and TV stations across the state and the country, and we look forward to this new chapter.”

Participating members of the collaborative presently include Sarasota Magazine, The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the Observer Media Group, Venice Gondolier/The Daily Sun, The Bradenton Herald, Tempo News, ABC 7 WWSB, WSLR, Solmart Media, Sarasota Scene Magazine and West Coast Woman. Other local media organizations are also encouraged to participate.

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