Who Will Write the Story? The Critical Role of Local Journalism

In 2020, we are working with public libraries across the Commonwealth to support public programming that explores issues related to the critical role of local journalism in supporting an informed citizenry. Working within the theme of “Democracy and the Informed Citizen,” funded programs will take place in communities across Virginia between May 2020 and May 2021.

Our partners in this initiative are the Virginia Press Association and the Virginia Center for Investigative Journalism; both of those organizations encourage engagement with their members across Virginia. We appreciate partnership with the Virginia Library Association to reach Virginia public libraries.

Funded Projects

The following libraries have submitted applications and will receive funding for their proposed programming in this project:

How to Apply—Regions 1, 2, and 4

The deadline for general applications was February 29, 2020. However, applications from VLA regions 1, 2, and 4 will be accepted on a rolling basis. Please review this PDF of Application Questions in advance and CLICK HERE to apply.

Successful applicants will receive grant funding in support of proposed programming. A portion of the grant funding will be designated for advertising the event in the local newspaper. 

Although we cannot guarantee full funding for any or all proposals that are selected, we encourage libraries to outline anticipated funding uses based on a $750 budget.

Funded libraries will be expected to provide a post-event report with a brief recap of the programming and attendance.

Questions? Email Virginia Center for the Book director Jane Kulow at [email protected].

Priorities

The Democracy and the Informed Citizen Initiative, funded by the Mellon Foundation in recognition of the Pulitzer Foundation and administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils, has these goals:

  • Deepen the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the intimate connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry, based on the following premises:
      1. A healthy democracy requires an informed citizenry
      2. The humanities and journalism play a vital role in fostering an informed citizenry.
      3. Informed citizens are media literate.
  • Increase media literacy by engaging the public in discussions with Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists in journalism, other respected journalists, and scholars about reliable and unreliable sources of information.
  • Expand support for local journalism by creating opportunities to engage directly with community members to address issues of concern.

Resources

As part of this initiative, With Good Reason radio produced a March 14, 2020, show on “Hard News,” featuring interviews with Betsy Edwards (executive director of the Virginia Press Association), Katrice Hardy (executive editor of the Greenville News and the South Regional Editor for USA Today Network), Lewis Raven Wallace (independent journalist and author of The View from Somewhere: Undoing the Myth of Journalistic Objectivity), and Chris Tyree (director of the Virginia Center for Investigative Journalism). CLICK HERE to learn more and listen to these interviews. 

Please review this background documentation of the critical role of local journalism (Democracy and the Informed Citizen_journalism backgrounder). 

As part of the 2020 Virginia Festival of the Book, the Center had planned to present a program on this theme, titled Who Will Write the Story?, featuring journalists in a discussion devoted to the necessity of local reporting for a vital democracy. This program was postponed due to COVID-19 but will be rescheduled at a later date.

Further, the directors of these Virginia-based journalism advocacy organizations encourage you to contact them with any questions or to arrange speakers:

  • Betsy Edwards, executive director of the Virginia Press Association
    [email protected], 804-521-7584
  • Chris Tyree, director of the Virginia Center for Investigative Journalism
    [email protected], 757-406-3478

This program is part of the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” initiative, administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils. The initiative seeks to deepen the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the vital connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry.

 

 

We thank The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Pulitzer Prizes for their partnership.