What is the Fort Worth Report?
The Fort Worth Report is a 501(c)(3) organization preparing to launch a daily digital news platform in 2021. This new media outlet is being built on a foundation of local leadership and local investment. It will provide community-sourced journalism that will exclusively support and report on the Fort Worth community with fact-based, thoughtful and contextual coverage without bias or predetermined agendas. The enterprise will be governed by a mission statement, bylaws, and an organizational structure that will ensure it remains faithful to these foundational principles.
Why is this happening?
In response to concerns from residents and community leaders, the principals of the Fort Worth Report began laying the groundwork to launch the city’s first nonprofit nonpartisan news medium. They contracted with a national firm specializing in news nonprofits, the News Revenue Hub, to research what Fort Worth’s residents believe they need and are not getting from traditional news outlets. The research showed it is time to reverse the decline in meaningful local news with a new model.
What is the mission statement and the vision of the Fort Worth Report?
We pledge to produce high-quality objective local journalism that informs public decision-making, addresses the quality of life of our community’s citizens, holds our policymakers accountable and tells our readers’ stories by listening to them and making sure they are valued and understood. In all that we do, earning the trust and respect of our audience is paramount. Our reporting will be free to all who access our primary digital channels.
The Fort Worth Report is committed to make Fort Worth and Tarrant County better through reliable local news reporting and information. (Adopted by the Board of Directors, Summer 2020)
How are you funded?
We have secured initial seed funding to launch this digital newsroom, thanks to a generous donation from The Burnett Foundation. Like other successful public-supported news nonprofits emerging around the country, our revenue model will grow to include individual contributions and membership, major gifts, and grants from local and national foundations. We also plan to offer local businesses corporate sponsorship opportunities.
What steps have been taken to launch?
A seed grant has been secured through the generosity of the Burnett Foundation to underwrite the appointment of a Publisher and CEO by January 2021. In addition, a Board of Directors has been formed with the goal of being representative of Fort Worth and Tarrant County’s communities and civic leadership. The Board’s current makeup is part of the announcement of our launch. Please click here for biographies of board members. In addition, the Board posted the position of founding Publisher and CEO. As our announcement says, we have hired Chris Cobler, a Texas journalist whose news staffs have been recognized nationally for their enterprise and civic reporting.
What is next?
Publisher/CEO Chris Cobler is spearheading the launch of Fort Worth Report’s digital news platform by recruiting a diverse news staff and other personnel, building on the seed funding with additional donations and other revenue, defining the products and services of the new news organization, and representing the organization throughout Fort Worth and Tarrant County. Please sign up for updates here. We are targeting Spring 2021 for the first in-depth reports from our reporting staff.
Will the Fort Worth Report’s news platform be a replacement for traditional news media in the Fort Worth-Dallas news market?
No. Traditional print and broadcast media perform functions that the services and products of The Fort Worth Report do not intend to replicate, such as granular national and local sports reporting, comics, lifestyle features and for-the-record process coverage of local governmental meetings. It will not provide national and international news summaries. Rather, this initiative will focus on local engagement, fact-finding and in-depth contextual reporting in the community. Its intentions are to evolve into a portfolio of insightful and objective news reports, investigative projects, email alerts, and newsletters and become a forum for community engagement through careful use of social channels, events and other platforms.
What did the research of the News Revenue Hub say?
One of the strongest findings was a disconnect between the kinds of local news content consumers were seeking and the perception of what local news media were actually delivering. Survey participants described the journalism they want: unbiased with no partisan bent, in-depth with deep dive investigative reporting, integrated with reporters embedded in the community they cover, and solutions oriented, with 60% of respondents saying current coverage was more focused on problems than solutions. The work of The Fort Worth Report’s news staff will address that. Click here for more specifics on the research.
Will I have to pay to access the journalism that Fort Worth Report intends to provide?
The Fort Worth Report’s basic online news will be provided without a paywall – i.e., content is provided free to site visitors – though it may be possible in the future to offer highly specialized content via paid subscription, as some news nonprofits in this arena aim to do. The main revenue streams will come from individual and business memberships, donations, advertising, sponsorships, corporations and foundations.
Will Fort Worth Report reflect a political or cultural bias or point of view?
Much has been written about news media outlets being commercially successful by appealing to audiences on one side or the other of political and cultural issues. The Fort Worth Report’s mission statement pledges to pursue objective journalism as the antidote. Whether we are successful is up to you, the audience. Though we may include reader input as a part of our presentation, we are not going to include editorial opinion or commentary by our news staff in the news product that we launch. This is a conscientious decision made by our Directors.
What is going on elsewhere and how does this relate to Fort Worth and Tarrant County?
Nonprofit community journalism is a national movement, with examples of business models that show initial signs of sustainability. There is a supportive professional network for community-based nonprofit journalism that has grown during the last decade. The programs of these support groups include training, learning labs, conferences, and peer-to-peer coaching that have benefited the development of Fort Worth Report.
Though editorial philosophy, scope and mission are varied, the concept is working in small towns and large urban communities. That said, all are dependent on benevolent funding to one extent or another as a partial replacement for traditional media revenue from circulation and advertising that subsidized the news operations of legacy media.
Nonprofit community journalism isn’t intended to replace legacy news media, which still has strengths for readers, viewers and advertisers, but it can address problems caused by disruptive innovation (e.g., Amazon, Craig’s List, free news via online from scrappers and aggregators) that led to downsizing that is evident in local markets. Legacy media’s response to the economic challenges has been further consolidation of ownerships, with decision-makers for local news resources being centralized.
How can I help now?
Watch the Fort Worth Report’s online pages for future developments and contact us with your suggestions here You are also be able to donate now to the build-out of the newsroom and, in the future, become members here.
What else do I need to know about the Fort Worth Report?
The Fort Worth Report will be committed to transparency in identifying corporations, other institutions like foundations and individuals who make significant contributions to its operations. The Board has adopted a formal policy that conforms with other local news nonprofits around the country. Please see the policy at here.