Duncan Pardo of the Raleigh, N.C., Public Record, a local online news community posted this note to the Journalism That Matters list.
"I've been lurking on this list for a little more than a year now, but I thought I'd write and let you know why we here in Raleigh are celebrating this holiday season. The Raleigh Public Record, a nonprofit news site dedicated to public-service journalism in Raleigh, recently received a two-year, $70,000 grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. To put this in perspective, our budget this year was about $2,400.
"I started the Record in fall 2008 and we decided a couple things very early on. First, we decided to serve Raleigh and only Raleigh. We're a McClatchy town and the seat of state government. As the News & Observer has cut back, they've put more resources toward state government coverage and now have only one person covering city government. Our mission is to pick up where they leave off, go to the council committee and planning commission meetings--where we are almost always the only reporters in the room--and focus our feature and enterprise reporting on the unreported and under-reported stories across the city.
"The other decision we made very early on, and has defined us for the past two years, is to grow the operation slowly and sustainably to create a news organization to serve Raleigh well into the future. From our first story published on Sept. 16, 2008 until January 2010 we were an all-volunteer operation. At the beginning on this year we started paying our freelancers between $30 and $100 for stories, but I remained unpaid. Starting next year, we will pay freelance reporters $50-200 per story and I will start paying myself a small monthly stipend. This is a big step for us, and a nice vote of confidence from one of the biggest foundations in North Carolina.
"Please check out the site and let me know what you think. We're winding down a bit for the next week, but we're getting ready to come out of the gates in the new year strong and ready for what we're calling "start-up phase 2."
Charles C. Duncan Pardo