Coffee and conversations go a long way when starting a nonprofit news organization.
We’ve been delighted by how many of you want to talk with us and have eagerly welcomed the Fort Worth Report into your lives. After we moved into our new offices at Trinity Coffeehouse, 2700 Weisenberger St., we’ve had many Fort Worthians stop by to offer well wishes and thoughts about news coverage they would like to see.
For example, Steer Fort Worth leaders came by to brainstorm about the ways their mission of civic engagement aligns with the Report’s goals. We are excited to explore how we can amplify their efforts and the good work of so many others. We are committed to telling untold stories.
As publisher, I have been on the circuit, visiting any group that wants a guest speaker and, most importantly, listening to what the community tells us are the important issues facing Fort Worth and Tarrant County. So far, those conversations have re-emphasized what our reader research told us before we launched the Fort Worth Report: You want to read substantive, nonpartisan coverage about education, local government, arts and culture, health and business.
You also want to see our stories dig deeper and help the community find solutions to the challenges in front of the booming 12th-largest city in the country. You’re tired of stories that present only problems and fail to search for best practices and successes. To emphasize this, we’re having our newsroom staff go through training with the Solutions Journalism Network.
At only 3½ months old, the Fort Worth Report is taking baby steps, but we’re pleased by what we’ve been able to accomplish already:
￭ We provided extensive news coverage, including co-hosting a mayoral debate with KERA, leading up to the May 1 local elections and June 5 runoff.
￭ Reporter Jacob Sanchez provided the only local coverage of the State Board of Education’s vote on the national Rocketship Public School’s application to open charter schools in Fort Worth.
￭ Reporter Jessica Priest broke the news about the Tarrant Regional Water District paying its retiring general manager more than $300,000 in extra compensation.
We have much more work to do, but we’re getting ready to race ahead with your support. Thank you to the 400 who donated through our founding members campaign and to all those who are joining the cause every week. As a community-owned nonprofit news organization, we are able to succeed only with your support.
We’re particularly touched by those who have donated and left thoughtful messages like this:
￭ “We need local journalism not controlled/limited by national ownership.”
￭ “Love the concept of nonprofit news source providing accurate and in-depth local coverage!”
￭ “Objective local journalism is critical to a functioning democracy.”
These comments echo the sentiment of community icon Anne Marion. Through The Burnett Foundation, Marion provided the initial seed funding to launch our newsroom. We are working to live up to the spirit of her generous investment in the Fort Worth Report and the civic health of her hometown.
Financial support also has come this summer through the Amon G. Carter and Sid W. Richardson foundations, which supported our fellowship program, allowing us to hire three outstanding young journalists for the summer: Cristian ArguetaSoto, Rachel Berhndt and Brooke Colombo. The three have contributed dozens of outstanding stories and images already, setting a high standard for all the fellows we hope will follow.
We also appreciate the support of Texas Health Resources, which sponsored the salary of new health reporter Alexis Allison, who started July 1. In celebrating this news, it’s also worth emphasizing that all of our funders, large or small, agree to our newsroom independence policy, which emphasizes that our coverage is shaped only by our community and our journalists. We encourage you to read that policy here. All our funders heartily embrace our mission, which includes this important statement: “In all that we do, earning the trust and respect of our audience is paramount.”
As a community-owned news organization, we listen to you. What stories do you want to see reported? The best local journalism happens when we are closely connected with our community. We also ask that you help us grow by spreading the word about our efforts to your friends, family and co-workers.
Please stop by our offices any time at Trinity Coffeehouse, where you get 10 percent off your purchases as a Fort Worth Report member. We also hope you will email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Managing Editor Thomas Martinez, email@example.com, any time with story suggestions or questions.Lots of good ideas are percolating at the Report, thanks to you.
Chris Cobler is the CEO and publisher of the Fort Worth Report. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For What It’s Worth
Editor’s note: Publisher/CEO Chris Cobler is a nostalgic Baby Boomer who likes to name his columns after 1960s protest anthems. When he was editor of the Washburn University Review in 1980 in Topeka, Kan., he called his column “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Now that he’s in Fort Worth, he can’t resist the title of another of his favorite songs, “For What It’s Worth.”
Although the songs are political, Cobler pledges to keep his columns focused on the community and not partisan politics. The mission of the Fort Worth Report is to bring people together around fact-based journalism, making this line in the Buffalo Springfield song especially meaningful: “Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.”