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More news. Less fluff. All local.

On #GivingTuesday, local nonprofit news needs your support

in Opinion

By Shereen Siewert, Editor and Publisher

Today is Giving Tuesday, a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world. On this Giving Tuesday, we’re asking for your help in supporting and expanding our coverage in 2020.

Thanks to our participation in NewsMatch, every donation you make today is matched dollar for dollar, up to $1,000 per donor and up to $20,000 total. Simply put, we’re asking you — and calling on our generous local foundations and supporters — to rethink local journalism as a public good.

What’s more, if you commit to a monthly donation, we’ll see that amount matched for the entire year. Commit to $5 per month and we’ll receive $60. Commit to $50 a month and we’ll receive $600.

We’re one of 198 nonprofit newsrooms nationwide to participate in NewsMatch, the largest grassroots fundraising campaign to support nonprofit news organizations. NewsMatch is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Democracy Fund, Facebook Journalism Project, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, Natasha and Dirk Ziff, and Present Progressive Fund at Schwab Charitable, in partnership with The Miami Foundation, the Institute for Nonprofit News and the News Revenue Hub. REI Co-op recently announced new first-time support to NewsMatch.

Here’s what we plan to do with our funding this year:

  • Hire a new reporter to cover more of Marathon County, including metro area communities
  • Purchase podcasting equipment that will allow us to produce a weekly podcast for local nonprofit organizations to showcase their efforts and opportunities
  • Our newsroom is one of 34 newsrooms chosen from a pool of more than 500 applicants for a website redesign that would add significant functionality and fundraising tools, while eliminating the need for a standalone app. This year’s fundraising efforts will help defray the annual $12,000 cost of web hosting.
  • We also pledge to continue our local high school sports coverage, which is funded in part, but not wholly, through sponsorships.

Serious local news requires serious news professionals – people who know how to search for records, who understand environmental regulations, who have the time and commitment to attend night meeting after night meeting to detect what’s sneaked into the budget. What’s more, solid local news coverage works best when reporters are tuned into their communities.

Why? Because relationships matter. What also matters is deep familiarity with the history of the community. For example, when the daily jail intake list landed in our inbox on Monday, we knew instantly that an arrest had been made in a 2006 cold case homicide that has long haunted Marathon County. We knew, because we recognized the name — and had the details of the case at our fingertips. That’s just one of many examples showing the importance of veteran reporters with a strong connection to the Wausau area.

In 2019, we won multiple awards from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association; we were one of three publishers named finalists for Publisher of the Year  and we won the top prize for the national investigative report of the year for the national Local Independent Online News Publishers group. But it isn’t about awards. It’s about serving the community.

Please consider supporting our effort by donating in any amount today.

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