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

Tag: Yankee Quill

Yankee Quill winner Ellen Clegg on why innovation must be part of journalism’s future

Ellen Clegg

Ellen Clegg — a retired Boston Globe editor, the co-author of our book, the co-host and producer of our podcast, the co-chair of the nonprofit Brookline.News, and my friend — was one of five journalists who received the prestigious Yankee Quill Award this past Saturday. Read about all five here.

The Yankee Quill recognizes great journalists who have also contributed to the betterment of our profession. As the Academy of New England Journalists puts it, “Selection for the award is not based on any single achievement, or for doing your job each day, but rather on the broad influence for good over the course of a career.” Her prepared remarks follow.

Thank you for this honor. Thanks to friends and colleagues, and thank you to my family for your support over many years when I worked nights and weekends, or got a ping from a boss at 5 a.m.

The Yankee Quill award recognizes past achievements over the long arc of a career. It’s about history and tradition.

But today’s honorees are also about the future. We’re innovating and experimenting, using digital tools that, 25 years ago, we never imagined would exist. We’re connecting with communities and readers in novel ways — deploying multimedia and measuring and nurturing audiences. Storytelling is as old as the Bronze Age and as new as TikTok.

The business of fact-based reporting that holds power to account, faces existential challenges. You know them well: digital disruption, the collapse of print advertising, the rise of platforms built on algorithms of anger.

As Professor Penny Abernathy has written, these forces have resulted in news deserts across the country — entire counties where there is no newspaper left at all. Some 2,900 newspapers have closed down since 2005 — nearly one-third of the nation’s total. About 43,000 journalism jobs have disappeared.

And, for sure, we didn’t always help ourselves. Legacy newsrooms were sometimes slow to recognize the promise — and, frankly, some of the perils — of digital publication. We were slow to change our business models. We were slow to put up paywalls that enabled us to assign a fair value to the work of our journalists. We were slow to adapt to a more frenzied pace, slow to restructure traditional newsrooms so they were digital-first.

But these same challenges have also prompted a wave of innovation and experimentation like never before. Steven Waldman, the cofounder of Report for America, calls it a replanting of local news.

Dan Kennedy and I began reporting on this phenomenon in 2019, for a book called “What Works in Community News.” We profiled nine media startups, and interviewed scores of enterprising journalists who are in the process of reinventing our business. We found an emerging movement that is nothing short of inspiring. It’s also sometimes a hard journey, fraught with uncertainty.

This wave of innovation isn’t temporary. It’s part of our future. I’m proud to be here today with journalists who are sustaining local news and providing the essential information that is so necessary to participatory democracy.

Thank you.

Leave a comment | Read comments

Congratulations to this year’s Yankee Quill Award winners

Ellen Clegg

I am excited to share some big news about my friend and collaborator Ellen Clegg. Ellen has won a 2024 Yankee Quill Award, given by the Academy of New England Journalists, for her “contributions to the betterment of journalism,” which include a long and distinguished career at The Boston Globe; her work on our book about local journalism, “What Works in Community News,” and our podcast; and her co-founding and ongoing leadership of Brookline.News, a digital nonprofit startup.

Ellen is not the only journalist I’m associated with who won a Yankee Quill. Ed Miller, the co-founder and editor of The Provincetown Independent, has built a unique news organization — a  print and digital outlet that’s a for-profit public benefit corporation, with a nonprofit arm known as the Local Journalism Project that supports certain types of public interest reporting at the Independent. (Disclosure: I’m a member of the Local Journalism Project’s advisory board.)

There were three other winners as well: George Brennan, a longtime editor on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard who also worked a stint at the Globe; Izaksun Larrañeta, executive editor of The Day in New London, Connecticut; and Mark Pothier, a veteran journalist and Globe alumnus who helped start the nonprofit Plymouth Independent and is now its editor and CEO. (A further disclosure: I’m a proud member of the Yankee Quill Class of 2019, and yes, I had a hand in picking this year’s honorees.)

The five will be honored at the New England Newspaper and Press Association convention on March 23. Here’s the press release, including bios of the winners. Congratulations to everyone!

Leave a comment | Read comments

The Emancipator makes its welcome, long-anticipated debut

The Emancipator, long in the making, has gotten past the soft-launch stage and made its formal debut this week. Aimed at covering the Black experience from an antiracist point of view, the site is vibrant and colorful. It looks great on mobile, and features videos (including one by Black activist and filmmaker Bree Newsome Bass, above) and comics alongside serious essays and reported pieces.

The Emancipator is a joint venture of The Boston Globe’s opinion operation and the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University. Northeastern journalism students are involved as well. There’s no paywall.

The point of the project is to provide national coverage of the country’s reckoning with systemic racism. Starting with the police murder of George Floyd and the police killing of Breonna Taylor in 2020, race has moved to the center of the national conversation in a way that it had not since the 1960s. Tragically, the moment we’re in right now feels more like the backlash than it does forward progress. The introduction puts it this way:

Just as 19th-century antislavery publications reframed and amplified the quest for abolition, The Emancipator centers critical voices, debates, and evidence-based opinion to reframe the national conversation on racial equity and hasten a more racially just society.

We put journalists, scholars, and community members into conversation, showcasing missing and underamplified voices — past and present — and demonstrating how they reveal the way forward.

The founders are former Globe editorial page editor Bina Venkataramin and BU’s Ibram X. Kendi, the author of “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” winner of the National Book Award. The co-editors are Deborah D. Douglas and Amber Payne. Among the more recognizable bylines is that of Globe columnist Kimberly Atkins Stohr, and the star-studded advisory board includes the ubiquitous Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the 1619 Project.

One interesting style note: News organizations have been reaching different conclusions during the past several years over whether they should uppercase “Black.” The Emancipator is going with uppercase “Black” and “White,” which, for what it’s worth, is what The Washington Post is doing as well. The Globe, The New York Times and The Associated Press have all opted for uppercase “Black” and lowercase “white.”

A year ago, when The Emancipator was announced, there were some hard feelings at The Bay State Banner, which has been covering the Black community in Greater Boston since 1965. (Northeastern students also contribute to the Banner through The Scope, our digital social-justice publication.) I don’t really see a conflict, though. The Banner continues to do a great job of covering local issues, while The Emancipator is national in scope and opinion-based. There’s room for both — and for more. Banner founder Melvin Miller, I should note, will receive a long-overdue Yankee Quill Award this Friday.

The Emancipator is an important project and a welcome new voice. I’ve signed up for “Unbound,” the site’s newsletter, and I’m interested to see how the project develops.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén