When we started the Fort Worth Report in April 2021, we assumed we’d have to explain to you the need for a nonprofit, independent local news organization.
Repeatedly, though, you interrupted our explanation and said you knew all too well about the demise of local legacy news media. You told us how much you wanted more straightforward reporting about Fort Worth and Tarrant County.
And, more than we ever expected, you thanked us. Your support has overwhelmed us and made possible the exciting news we are announcing today: The American Journalism Project, or AJP, is investing $1.1 million in the financial future of the Report.
Impressed by your support, this national venture philanthropic organization wants to keep our momentum going and ensure we’re serving Fort Worth for many years to come. AJP’s investment is, by design, in our business operations. The three-year grant will allow us to hire staff who will focus on growing revenue from our three main sources: individual memberships and gifts; corporate advertising and sponsorships; and philanthropy. The money also will be spent on growing our audience, expanding the reach and impact of our journalism.
When we launched, we had only a small startup staff of six working out of a coffeehouse downtown. When our latest hire starts at the end of the month, we will have more than tripled our staff. Our newest hire, Lee Williams, a former Fort Worth Star-Telegram managing editor, will focus on enhancing our daily and specialty newsletters and working with Managing Editor Thomas Martinez to lead our staff of 11 reporters.
We’re also about to move into bigger offices that some of you may remember as Texas Wesleyan University’s former campus bookstore on East Rosedale Street. We’ll tell you much more about that exciting move later and invite you to our planned open house.
All of this is about doing more of what you told us you want: Hold government officials accountable, find solutions for community issues, and strengthen a diverse and rapidly growing Fort Worth and Tarrant County. Today’s $1.1 million investment means we have the business bandwidth to support this journalistic mission.
But to truly fill the huge void created by the demise of local legacy news media, we will need to at least double our newsroom. We need more journalists digging even deeper, covering issues such as higher education, religion and public safety, and embedded in the woefully underserved city of Arlington and all the booming Tarrant County communities ringing Fort Worth.
To do this, we are starting a campaign to grow our revenues by an additional $1.5 million to match AJP’s investment. That’s where you come in yet again. We hope you’ll invest in the local journalism you want to see.
We’ll be sharing with you a lot more details about our campaign in the coming months, but today is a celebration. Your belief in the power of local journalism made this possible.
Chris Cobler is the CEO and publisher of the Fort Worth Report. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.