Originally published in Castine Patriot, November 16, 2023 and Island Ad-Vantages, November 16, 2023 and The Weekly Packet, November 16, 2023
Independent newsrooms, nonprofits launch collaborative initiative to strengthen Maine journalism
Five independent news organizations and two nonprofit partners have announced the formation of the Maine Independent News Collaborative, a grassroots effort to sustain and grow independent local journalism in Maine.
“The United States is losing two newspapers every week. In 2002, Maine newsrooms employed more than 300 daily journalists. Today, that number is around 90. When newspapers shrink or close, communities suffer. Fewer people volunteer or vote, taxes go up and corruption flourishes. We can’t let this trend continue,” said Bangor Daily News senior audience director and MINC project director Jo Easton in a press release.
That is why a group of news organizations and supporting partners this year formed MINC, a collective committed to the mission of sustaining quality local journalism for all Mainers.
MINC is a new journalism collaborative representing 1.5 million readers comprising five local news organizations with common values: Amjambo Africa, Bangor Daily News, Lincoln County News, Penobscot Bay Press and The Quoddy Tides, and led by founding partners Bangor Daily News, Eastern Maine Development Corporation and the Unity Foundation. The project is fiscally sponsored by EMDC.
The group is banding together to fund shared-reporting resources, improvements to the digital technologies that deliver journalism to readers and a collaborative inter-newsroom structure to facilitate statewide accountability and enterprise reporting.
MINC partners “are harnessing the power of collective strength to enable us to keep on doing what we do best—sharing information with small and/or marginalized communities so they can be fully participating members of our democracy,” said Amjambo Africa Editor in Chief Kathreen Harrison. Collaboration is necessary to “ensure that [our] newspaper remains a healthy and relevant resource of local news far into the future,” said Quoddy Tides editor and publisher Edward French.
Together, MINC partners are asking: “How might we support Maine communities by strengthening local journalism? How might Maine communities that lack local reporting today prosper with its return? How might sharing resources help all of us better serve our readers, and tell more ambitious stories with statewide reach and impact?”
Penobscot Bay Press publisher Nat Barrows is hopeful that MINC will increase his organization’s ability “to be nimble to respond to the changing news ecosystem and environment,” while Bangor Daily News managing editor Dan MacLeod is focused on the potential for “expanded capacity for local investigations.”
Seed funding from the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation will provide planning grants for digital technology investments in 2024.
Learn more about the Maine Independent News Collaborative and its plans at maineindependentnewscollaborative.org.