By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tag: Commercial Appeal

Why the local news crisis will be solved by enterpreneurs at the grassroots

Adrienne Johnson Martin, executive editor of MLK50. Photo (cc) 2023 by Dan Kennedy.

Ellen Clegg and I have written a commentary for Poynter Online about our book, “What Works in Community News.” The piece is focused on Ellen’s reporting in Memphis, Tennessee, where two nonprofit startups, MLK50 and the Daily Memphian, are filling the gap created by Gannett’s hollowing out of the legacy daily, The Commercial Appeal. Our bottom line:

We are heartened by the work being done by these news entrepreneurs. At a time when advocates are proposing solutions to the local news crisis such as tax credits, legal action to force Google and Facebook to share advertising revenues, and expanded philanthropic efforts, we’ve learned that there is no substitute for the dedication of grassroots news activists. We hope our work will inspire others to start similar efforts in their own communities.

We hope you’ll take a look at our piece.

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Memphis newspaper legend Otis Sanford on the rise of a new media ecosystem

Otis Sanford at his 2014 induction into the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame

This week on the “What Works” podcast, Ellen Clegg and I talk with Professor Otis Sanford, who is something of a journalistic legend in Memphis. As a general assignment reporter at The Commercial Appeal in 1977, Sanford covered the death of Elvis Presley. He also covered courts, county government and politics before being promoted into management. After stints at the Pittsburgh Press and Detroit Free Press, Sanford returned to The Commercial Appeal. In 2002 he was named managing editor and in 2007 he became editorial page editor.

As opinion editor in Memphis, Sanford launched a Citizens Editorial Board. While that was a number of years ago, Sanford was ahead of the curve in terms of community engagement.

In 2011, Sanford joined the University of Memphis Department of Journalism faculty. He holds the Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic and Managerial Journalism. He still writes a column on politics and events in Memphis. It’s published in The Daily Memphian, a thriving startup founded by journalists and business people who were disappointed by the rounds of layoffs at The Commercial Appeal.

The Daily Memphian is one of two digital newsrooms launched by journalists who left The Commercial Appeal. The other newsroom is the award-winning MLK50, started by Wendi C. Thomas, to cover income inequality, race and justice issues.

I’ve got a quick take on the latest from The Baltimore Banner, a digital start-up that will be competing with the Baltimore Sun, acquired last year by the notorious hedge fund Alden Global Capital.

Ellen looks at the new Votebeat site, a Chalkbeat spinoff that just might help election integrity.

You can listen to our conversation here and subscribe through your favorite podcast app.

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