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Eight nonprofit news leaders running for INN’s Board of Directors

Meet the Candidates

INN members, please meet the candidates seeking to represent you in four open seats on INN’s Board of Directors.

Three seats on the board are currently up for re-election. Under new bylaws, the chair of the board will serve a separate term, so in November we anticipate a fourth seat could become available to fill the unexpired term of whichever board member is elected chair. This means the top three vote-getters will be elected or re-elected to full terms. The candidate with the fourth-highest votes would be asked to serve the unexpired term of the board chair if the chair is a member representative.

How we define full-term: Directors currently are elected to two-year terms. However, the board is expected to vote on bylaws changes that would make all board seats three-year terms. Therefore, those you are voting for now will be asked to serve for three years.

(A summary of the proposed bylaws and governance updates will be emailed to each voting member this week, informationally. The only major change for member elections is the term length.)

The three regular seats up open in these elections are currently held by Laura Frank of Colorado News Collaborative (COLab), Sheila Krumholz of OpenSecrets and Ron Smith of Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. Their two-year terms are up for renewal. Frank is not running for re-election, as INN is creating a past-chair transitional role to strengthen the board. Frank is expected to move into that one-year position as of the November board meeting.

Krumholz is seeking re-election. Smith, who was elected to the unexpired term of Anne Galloway last year, is seeking re-election to a full regular term.

Each member director represents all members. However, we encourage members to vote for candidates from a mix of local, state, national and general and single-subject (topical) news outlets, as well as a mix of geographies, ages and organizational lifecycles, and with our organizational diversity values in mind. The current board is listed here.

Ballots will be distributed to members via email staring Oct. 12. One voting representative from each member organization can vote for up to FOUR (4) candidates. The deadline to vote is 9 p.m. ET on Oct. 25. 

Read candidates’ statements below.


Josh Barousse
Executive Director
San José Spotlight

Watch Josh Barousse’s candidate video.

Bio

Josh is San José Spotlight’s co-founder and executive director, and is excited about building partnerships in the community, fundraising and coordinating events.

His professional career has included roles with the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits, various state and city lawmakers and Silicon Valley At Home, where he served as political manager and led advocacy campaigns for affordable housing policies.

As a volunteer, Josh has served on the board of numerous community organizations, including the city of San Jose Human Rights Commission, City of San José Independent Police Auditor Advisory Committee, East Side Union High School District Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, the District 8 Community Roundtable. He also served as a fellow with the New Leaders Council- Silicon Valley, Latino Leadership Alliance and the American Leadership Forum.

Josh is a San Jose native who grew up in Evergreen and graduated from San Jose State University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology-community change and a Master of Public Administration degree. In his free time, Josh enjoys reading, hiking and spending time with his wife, Ramona, their daughter Vienna and dog, Lucky.

Please list what INN trainings, programs and services your organization has participated in over the last year.

I’m currently participating in INN’s Major Gifts Coaching program and I’ve previously attended INN At Home as well as several training webinars on major gifts and wealth screening.

What aspect of INN is most valuable and how would you support or advance it further if elected?

INN has been a vital part of our organization’s growth and development by providing resources such as webinars and training programs, but I believe the most valuable aspect is the national network of more than 300 nonprofit newsrooms that we can learn from and share best practices and information.

If elected, I would further advance the national network by supporting more opportunities for both in-person and virtual networking for us all to get together, such as regional meet-ups, training seminars and other opportunities for publications to share information with one another.

What might you work to change about INN if elected?

If elected to the esteemed INN Board of Directors, I would bolster training opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to start a news organization. When you’re launching a nonprofit newsroom from scratch — as we did in 2019 — there is a great deal of planning, paperwork, logistical challenges and legal processes that you are not prepared for. I’d ensure there is a toolkit and checklist available to anyone looking to launch a nonprofit news organization that includes tools, templates and basic information needed to move from a concept to a thriving startup. These checklists would be customized by state or region since California’s rules, for example, vary widely from other states.

Some of the resources would include blueprints and checklists for submitting your Articles of Incorporation and other IRS tax filings to crafting a business plan, filing taxes, hiring legal counsel, buying insurance, payroll processes and even resources for web design and development. It would also include extensive resources to help with fundraising for startup capital and seed money.

I’d also like to see a toolkit with templates such as reporter and freelancer contracts, offer letters and new hire paperwork for new publishers who may not be able to hire an HR consultant or attorney to create these documents.

Creating the ultimate playbook for launching a nonprofit newsroom will make what seems like an insurmountable amount of work more accessible and less intimidating for entrepreneurs across the U.S., leading to a continued rise in nonprofit journalism.

Directors generally help in three broad types of direction: (1) Problem-framing and analysis, (2) Strategy, and (3) Plans, tactics and execution. What’s your strongest suit among the three? (And all of them are “right” answers.)

Without a doubt, my strongest suit is definitely “plans, tactics and execution.”

I am all about execution. Over the past three years, I’ve helped lead a nonprofit news organization that started with just an idea and no money in 2018. Three years later, we’ve amassed more than $1.7 million and a team of six full-time staff.

We’ve filled a critical news gap in San Jose, garnering more than 14.7 million pageviews from 6.2 million readers. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, a mobile app, a civic engagement calendar, a tool to translate stories into Spanish and Vietnamese, live and virtual events and a soon-to-be-released documentary series highlighting the plight of essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This growth was the result of a lot of strategic planning and relationship building with funders and supporters. Once we created a revenue growth plan, we developed strategies for raising money through five diverse revenue streams and executed the plan to exceed our revenue and growth goals.

I would bring these skills to the INN Board of Directors to help plan and execute programming for our newsrooms, networking opportunities and valuable tools to ensure members are getting the support they need to build successful organizations and get on a path to long-term sustainability.

What specific skills would you like to contribute to the INN board?

The specific skills I would like to contribute to the INN board include network-building, fundraising, nonprofit business expertise and making news media more inclusive.

Since joining INN in 2018, I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons and skills from fellow publications in the network. The diverse group of newsroom leaders in the INN family have shared best practices, and candidly discussed what has worked for them and what they need help with. The more we can get these leaders in a room (both in-person and on Zoom), the more we can learn from one another, experiment with new ideas and grow our organizations.

I’d also like to see more publications started by women and people of color in minority communities. We have one of the most diverse newsrooms in the state, with editors and reporters who speak Vietnamese and Spanish, and we’ve made it a part of our core mission to ensure our public service journalism is accessible to people of all walks of life. If elected to the INN board, I want to help recruit people of color to start their own news organizations in their respective communities and cultivate their success by providing training and resources necessary to help them get on a path to long-term sustainability.

I know what it takes to run a nonprofit business.

With my partner and co-founder, Ramona Giwargis, we have built an award-winning, nationally recognized organization and have quickly become the go-to source of local news in Silicon Valley.

Simon Galperin
Founding Director
Community Info Coop

Watch Simon Galperin’s candidate video.

Bio

Simon Galperin is a journalist, technologist and organizer working in media and policy to strengthen democracy.

He is the founder of the Bloomfield Information Project, a public service journalism lab serving Essex County, New Jersey, where he has won awards for news product innovation and community journalism.

The Bloomfield Information Project is an initiative of the Community Info Coop, a nonprofit organization Simon founded to develop new models of public participation and funding in journalism, media and technology.

As a Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellow, Simon launched and continues to run the organization’s Info Districts Project to establish special improvement districts as a model for funding local news and information now with partnerships in New Jersey, Colorado, Massachusetts, California, Brazil, and the UK.

Simon received a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University in 2021 to continue exploring community-driven solutions to the local news crisis.

Previously, Simon worked in business development roles at GroundSource, Opinary and ProPublica. He graduated from the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY with an master’s degree in engaged journalism in 2016.

Simon is also a former EMT and outdoor educator who speaks English as a second language.

Please list what INN trainings, programs and services your organization has participated in over the last year.

NewsMatch has played a critical role in the early success of the Bloomfield Information Project. So I was happy to see INN create a progressive matching structure for NewsMatch following feedback earlier this year. And I hope to continue encouraging INN’s support of small-budget news publishers.

What aspect of INN is most valuable and how would you support or advance it further if elected?

INN’s most valuable aspect is its membership. They are the backbone of the organization and the future of local news and journalism — many in unique ways.

That’s why I’m eager to support improvements to INN’s membership pipeline and programs supporting new and innovative nonprofit startups, especially those serving communities of color and low-wealth populations.

What might you work to change about INN if elected?

I want to encourage INN to make its fiscal sponsorship program more accessible, diversify its staff and board, and build inclusive member participation into institutional decision-making.

Directors generally help in three broad types of direction: (1) Problem-framing and analysis, (2) Strategy, and (3) Plans, tactics and execution. What’s your strongest suit among the three? (And all of them are “right” answers.)

I am strongest at problem-framing and analysis. I believe a commitment to inclusive problem-framing and analysis allows organizations to develop more holistic solutions to the challenges they face.

What specific skills would you like to contribute to the INN board?

My experience as an early-stage nonprofit news entrepreneur and engagement specialist can enable INN to advance its member offerings and participation as well as making the institution more inclusive.

Sheila Krumholz
Executive Director
OpenSecrets

Watch Sheila Krumholz’s candidate video.

Bio

Sheila Krumholz is the executive director of OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan watchdog group that tracks money in politics on its website, OpenSecrets.org. OpenSecrets was created in 2021 by the merger of the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) and the National Institute on Money in Politics. She became executive director of CRP in 2006, prior to which she was research director for eight years, supervising data analysis for CRP’s website, OpenSecrets.org, and for partners and clients in the media, academia and elsewhere. Krumholz has testified before Congress and the Federal Election Commission on issues related to government transparency and is cited frequently in prominent national media outlets. She regularly makes presentations to scholars, government officials, NGOs that conduct research and advocacy, and to meetings of professional news organizations, and trains reporters on CRP’s data tools and resources. She has a degree in international relations and political science from the University of Minnesota.

Please list what INN trainings, programs and services your organization has participated in over the last year.

What aspect of INN is most valuable and how would you support or advance it further if elected?

INN offers so many benefits to members. We’ve taken advantage of NewsMatch, the major gifts program, programs on diversity, equity and inclusion, and guidance on applying for the SBA loan, among others. But the INN Index is perhaps an underappreciated but highly valuable tool, offering both a big-picture overview of the nonprofit journalism field but also in-depth analyses of segments. The Index examines the different types of nonprofit news organizations so that we can find information more tailored to our organizations’ key characteristics and specific situations. I look forward to helping to further develop and promote this excellent tool, and encouraging organizations to leverage it in their strategic planning processes, taking advantage of opportunities revealed by this substantial research.

What might you work to change about INN if elected?

INN’s growth has been impressive — a true testament to the INN team. It has also been rapid — so much so that many of us are not familiar with our fellow member organizations. Additionally, many of the new members are “subject specific” news organizations, like the one I lead. If elected, I would seek opportunities to learn about and from each other. I would also work to pursue new opportunities to share our work among the INN community and help facilitate easier collaboration, helping members to broaden their audiences and disseminate their reporting and content more widely among member organizations, to reduce the extent to which we are all operating in our own silos.

Directors generally help in three broad types of direction: (1) Problem-framing and analysis, (2) Strategy, and (3) Plans, tactics and execution. What’s your strongest suit among the three? (And all of them are “right” answers.)

Of the three types of direction, I look forward to working on developing tactics and execution, helping to implement thoughtful plans that promote sustainable growth centered around diversity, equity and inclusion.

What specific skills would you like to contribute to the INN board?

As leader of a nonprofit research and reporting organization (OpenSecrets), I bring 16 years of fundraising and network-building experience to the board. I have been an active INN board member since 2017, providing financial oversight by serving on the board’s Audit Committee and, more recently, the Finance Committee. I also serve on the INN Research Advisory Board, providing feedback on INN research and plans for the future, with a particular focus on the INN Index.

Kyra Kyles
CEO
YR Media

Watch Kyra Kyle’s candidate video.

Bio

Kyra Kyles is a multi-platform senior-level media executive, award-winning writer and public speaker on issues of diversity and representation. Prior to joining YR Media as CEO, Kyra worked in philanthropy at Field Foundation where she oversaw the organization’s inaugural Media & Storytelling portfolio, granting funds to journalism and filmmaking organizations engaged in fact-based storytelling with a lens on racial equity. Kyra joined Field following a position as EBONY editor-in-chief and senior vice president, head of digital editorial. She originally joined the historic Black-owned brand as a senior editor for JET magazine in 2011 before jet-setting over to run the site, launching it into all-digital form as an app and eventually helming EBONY.com and the print media mothership itself. 

Prior to six years at EBONY Media Operations (formerly Johnson Publishing Company), Kyra worked for the Tribune Company’s millennial outlet, RedEye, where she achieved unprecedented levels of audience engagement for projects including a WGN-TV pop culture segment called “The Kyles Files” and an interactive music competition for indie artists, “The Track Off.” 

Former two-time President of the National Association of Black Journalists-Chicago chapter, Kyra serves as a board member for indie streaming service kweliTV and volunteers on the board of advisors for Dream on Education, a youth development nonprofit serving Chicago.

Please list what INN trainings, programs and services your organization has participated in over the last year.

YR Media has participated in NewsMatch every year since 2017. At the June 2021 INN summit, I spoke on two panels about the importance of centering diversity equity and inclusion in hiring and was joined by YR Media contributor Omar Rashad, who shared his insights about his experiences as an emerging journalist. In March 2021, we sent two staff members to attend The Racial Equity Institute’s Groundwater Approach for INN Members. And just over a year ago, at INN At Home in September 2020, we had a team of youth and adult journalists present a breakout session: “Don’t Get Dragged: How to Be Credible in Front of Young, Diverse Audiences.”

What aspect of INN is most valuable and how would you support or advance it further if elected?

The most valuable aspect of INN membership for YR Media has been the connections both with other members, and with new audiences and donors. If elected, I would leverage my professional network and my platform as a public speaker and CEO to advocate for more financial support for nonprofit news, and specifically of the News Match initiative. I would also look for more opportunities to join INN members together throughout the year to come together virtually in working groups to share ideas and work towards solutions to our shared challenges in the industry. For example, many INN members have expressed their desire to discuss and learn more about DEI and representation in media over the past year and a half, and YR Media has been grateful for INN’s recent increased offerings on this topic. I would like to offer my expertise as a speaker and leader in this area, to further advance the great work that INN is doing.

What might you work to change about INN if elected?

If elected, I would work to increase the diversity of INN’s membership and leadership. In my first year and a half as CEO of YR Media, I have built a new advisory board of diverse media and tech executives. I have also increased the diversity of our Board of Directors, a longtime goal of the organization, and I have recruited several women of color into top leadership positions while also promoting several of our existing staff from within. I know that INN recognizes the importance of diversity in media, and I would love to contribute my expertise in this area to the Board.

Directors generally help in three broad types of direction: (1) Problem-framing and analysis, (2) Strategy, and (3) Plans, tactics and execution. What’s your strongest suit among the three? (And all of them are “right” answers.)

While I would argue that I excel in all three areas, my strongest suit is 3: Plans, tactics and execution. As an experienced leader of people and teams, I excel at taking action and bringing ambitious plans to life.

What specific skills would you like to contribute to the INN board?

As mentioned above, I would like to bring my expertise in representation in media to the Board. I know that INN members are dedicated to increasing the diversity of our newsrooms, and of the stories we tell. I can offer everything I have learned as a journalist, a nonprofit media program officer, a media executive, a mentor to emerging BIPOC journalists, and a public speaker on issues of diversity and representation.

Robert Moore
CEO
El Paso Matters

Watch Robert Moore’s candidate video.

Bio

Robert Moore has been a journalist for 38 years, most of it in El Paso. He currently is president and CEO of El Paso Matters, a nonprofit news organization he founded that began publishing in February 2020. El Paso Matters currently has an eight-person newsroom focused on in-depth and investigative reporting.

Moore has written about border issues for the Washington Post, ProPublica, Texas Monthly and other media outlets. In 2020, he was the recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for work that showed that the Border Patrol ignored the worsening condition of a 16-year-old boy who later died of the flu in his cell. He also was part of a Washington Post team that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for coverage of mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. In 2013, while serving as editor of the El Paso Times, he was presented the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award from the National Press Foundation, the nation’s highest honor for a newspaper editor.

Moore graduated with high honors from the University of Texas at El Paso, earning a B.A. in political science in 1998.

Moore serves on the board of El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank. He previously has served on the boards of El Paso’s United Way, Center Against Sexual and Family Violence and the Child Crisis Center. He is a past president of the Colorado Press Association and Texas Associated Press Managing Editors.

Please list what INN trainings, programs and services your organization has participated in over the last year.

Google News Initiative Sponsorship Lab, INN Days, Emerging Leaders Council.

What aspect of INN is most valuable and how would you support or advance it further if elected?

INN is invaluable for start-ups. I could not have launched El Paso Matters without guidance from Sue Cross and Fran Scarlett. I think my experience with a still-maturing news organization can bring additional insight to the board on the challenges facing emerging and young nonprofit news organizations.

What might you work to change about INN if elected?

As INN grows, it has a tremendous amount of diversity among member organizations. That diversity includes mission, size and focus. I think INN can better develop programming that appeals to different groups among its membership.

Directors generally help in three broad types of direction: (1) Problem-framing and analysis, (2) Strategy, and (3) Plans, tactics and execution. What’s your strongest suit among the three? (And all of them are “right” answers.)

My strongest area is in plans, tactics and execution. That is the area I focused on in my for-profit media days and it’s something I’ve continued in the nonprofit world.

What specific skills would you like to contribute to the INN board?

Building sustainable, diverse and high-performing news organizations.

Kelsey Ryan
Founder & Publisher
The Beacon

Watch Kelsey Ryan’s candidate video.

Bio

Kelsey Ryan is founder and publisher of The Beacon, a nonprofit news network serving Kansans and Missourians with newsrooms in Kansas City and Wichita. The Beacon is a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News and Local Independent Online News Publishers.

Previously, Ryan worked at The Kansas City Star as a data and investigative journalist. She was on the investigative team that was named a 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist in Public Service for its series on government secrecy in Kansas.

Ryan began her career at The Joplin (Mo.) Globe a day after an EF-5 tornado destroyed one-third of the city. She later worked at The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, covering health care and later covering city government and investigations.

Ryan grew up in Newton, Kansas, and graduated from Emporia State University with a degree in political science. She was editor of her college paper, The Bulletin, for two years and interned at the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C.

She’s received fellowships from Investigative Reporters & Editors, the Association for Health Care Journalists, the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Press Foundation. She is a member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, a board member on the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, and frequently lectures at universities across Kansas and Missouri.

Please list what INN trainings, programs and services your organization has participated in over the last year.

What aspect of INN is most valuable and how would you support or advance it further if elected?

The most valuable part of INN is the peer sharing, and being able to talk to other nonprofit news outlet leaders around the country about what works, what doesn’t, and what we should try next.

The collaboration aspect is also valuable, particularly in fostering a community of collaborating, but also in finding revenue to support newsrooms embarking on ambitious projects.

If elected, I would be particularly interested in finding more ways to enhance peer learning and mentorship within INN, building a diverse talent pipeline of leadership and supporting INN’s efforts to encourage collaboration and revenue sharing opportunities for members.

What might you work to change about INN if elected?

INN is in a position to really help support the future leaders of nonprofit news. The Emerging Leaders program is great, but even more can and should be done to ensure that people from all backgrounds are given opportunities to step into leadership roles and the tools they need to be successful. We need to champion succession planning, particularly as the first wave of founders in many news organizations approach retirement.

I’d also want to do anything possible to support shared revenue opportunities for members, like the After COVID project.

Directors generally help in three broad types of direction: (1) Problem-framing and analysis, (2) Strategy, and (3) Plans, tactics and execution. What’s your strongest suit among the three? (And all of them are “right” answers.)

While I often toggle between strategy and execution at work, in this role I would like to focus on strategy and how INN can best serve member needs as the nonprofit news industry grows and evolves. This involves listening and information gathering while looking at issues through different lenses, and then working with others on recommendations for specific issues.

What specific skills would you like to contribute to the INN board?

I’d contribute skills around network building and making news more inclusive, as well as business modeling and member benefits. I’d also contribute consensus building skills and collaboration on the board.

Dylan Smith
Editor & Publisher
TucsonSentinel.com

Watch Dylan Smith’s candidate video.

Bio

Dylan Smith is the Editor and Publisher of TucsonSentinel.com, a pioneering nonprofit local independent online news organization.

He was the founding Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION Publishers), organizing a group of publishers of nearly 300 local news websites across the country. He is a member of IRE and SPJ, and the president of the Arizona Press Club. He’s won numerous state and national awards and accolades for breaking news and investigative journalism, including the Sledgehammer Award from the Arizona Press Club, and is a Brechner Reporting Fellow at the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida, which supports his work pursuing in-depth journalism about government secrecy, as well as a Guggenheim Justice Reporting Fellow, Center on Media, Crime and Justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

An experienced designer and programmer, he served as the only journalist to be an Invited Expert on the World Wide Web Consortium’s HTML Working Group, helping write the latest specification for the language that runs the Internet.

He comes from a long line of journalists; his great-grandfather began work as a reporter fresh from high school in 1900. His family operated the Wheaton (Ill.) Daily Journal for over 50 years. His grandfather was also an editor and publisher, his grandmother a copyeditor and typesetter, and his parents published an alternative newspaper in the 1960s.

Please list what INN trainings, programs and services your organization has participated in over the last year.

In addition to NewsMatch and related fundraising training sessions and discussions, the Sentinel has been involved in learning from INN Days, sharing opportunities on the INN jobs board, several Google News Initiative programs in conjunction with INN, and frequent informal peer-to-peer discussions with numerous other INN members.

What aspect of INN is most valuable and how would you support or advance it further if elected?

In addition to NewsMatch and related fundraising training sessions and discussions, the Sentinel has been involved in learning from INN Days, sharing opportunities on the INN jobs board, several Google News Initiative programs in conjunction with INN, and frequent informal peer-to-peer discussions with numerous other INN members.

What might you work to change about INN if elected?

I don’t see INN as needing any sort of dramatic shifts — our organization has developed into a mature and stable group. I do think that some of the more creative and scrappy achievements of small outlets — those serving smaller cities and towns, targeted communities that are underserved by mass media, topical sites — could be featured as examples, just as much as programs from organizations with much larger budgets. We can learn just as much from those doing amazing journalism with sparse resources.

The lack of any in-person gatherings for journalism orgs of all types over the past two years has really dampened the valuable networking between old friends and new colleagues alike. While there have been a number of informal gatherings on Zoom, and NewsMatch-related fundraising discussions, INN could be doing more to encourage some low-key hangouts to exchange information — even once whatever “normal” might be rears its head again.

As the founding chairman of LION Publishers, I of course hold local news near and dear. Continuing the very beneficial and cooperative work between the two organizations is important. There are some initiatives where even more could be happening, that would be great news for the members of both groups (which already have significant cross-over; some 30% of INN and LION members are in both already).

I’ll always be a strong voice advocating for local nonprofit news organizations, which I firmly believe will become even more necessary in the next few years.

I’d be very honored if INN’s members cast their votes for me to have that voice have a seat at the table of the Board of Directors.

Directors generally help in three broad types of direction: (1) Problem-framing and analysis, (2) Strategy, and (3) Plans, tactics and execution. What’s your strongest suit among the three? (And all of them are “right” answers.)

I’ve helped take LION Publishers from a small all-volunteer group with a couple hundred bucks in the bank to a national organization with a budget in the millions, at the same time as growing my own news organization, TucsonSentinel.com, so I’ve got some skills in each of these areas.

As a director, I’ll do what the Board chair and ED (and our members) need most — I’m an eager hand and always ready to work where needed. Mostly, I’m best at getting (stuff) done — tackling a problem and making things work.

What specific skills would you like to contribute to the INN board?

Especially of late, I’ve had a keen interest in how our well-grounded ethics (I wear my grandfather’s Sigma Delta Chi ring every day to remind me of the importance of SPJ’s Code in our work) will fit into the developing model of the news business. It’s only going to become more common for the old-school “wall” between the newsroom and business side to crumble away. Yet we don’t have many widely agreed principles that govern our industry in this new world. SPJ concerns itself with reporting, not revenue. INN has, thankfully, set some general transparency standards. But there are a lot of open questions that need to be discussed, so we can better agree what is correct and what’s out of bounds.

I also remain very committed to our rebuilding of the news business in a way that’s inclusive and equitable — we can’t let our work in our own organizations, in INN and LION and other groups, lay the foundation for homogeneous corporate takeovers that just lead to the same old problems. There’s a danger that the collapse of legacy fossil media will create the opportunity for a repeat of the problems that caused the news to be so disconnected and unrepresentative in the first place. Fostering independence in our press will help keep power and responsibility distributed in a way that will better serve more people.

Ronald Smith
Editor/Project Director
Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

Bio

Ron Smith is an instructor of practice in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication and the editor/program director for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. The nonprofit service provides evidenced-based journalism coverage of Milwaukee’s communities of color and is staffed by professionals, student-journalists and community residents. Before his current role, Ron served as the managing editor for news at USA TODAY.  In addition, he was the deputy managing editor for daily news and production at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where he oversaw the breaking news hub, production desks and was the key point person for print story selections and workflow.  Ron has been blessed to work in newsrooms across the country, including The Oregonian, the Los Angeles Times and Newsday.  He’s also worked as an advertising sales director and as the interim student adviser for New Expression, a citywide teen publication written by and for Chicago youths that had a monthly circulation of 70,000.  He has edited several Pulitzer Prize-winning reports and is known for championing great journalism and the great journalists who produce great works.  A sought-after speaker, Ron has led sessions for Poynter, American Society of News Editors, National Association of Black Journalists and the Asian American Journalists Association. He served as the co-leadership chairman for the American Society of News Editors and worked as an instructor for the organization’s Emerging Leaders Institute, which trains diverse mid-career professionals to be newsroom leaders.

Please list what INN trainings, programs and services your organization has participated in over the last year.

I am grateful for everything INN offers and have participated in INN at Home, along with webinars on fundraising. I take advantage of and use the organization’s robust online resources as well. Here are a few recent resources I’ve taken advantage of:

What aspect of INN is most valuable and how would you support or advance it further if elected?

INN is invaluable in so many ways that it is hard to list just one thing. For starters, it builds a community for hundreds of nonprofit newsrooms that differ in scale, funding and approaches to share successes, resources and challenges. I would like to help the organization grow by drawing on my experiences in leadership at newsrooms that ranged from small and ambitious to some of the nation’s largest organizations. INN’s fundraising resources, training and collaboration opportunities are also invaluable.

In the end, it doesn’t matter the size of your newsroom, but it does matter your vision for it. As the nation continues to wrestle with racial unrest and the challenges that come from it, INN must figure out ways to ensure its members understand, appreciate and implement diversity and inclusion policies so our newsrooms look like the communities we serve. I’ve spent my entire career focused on such issues and want to help INN take it to the next level. I “proceed until apprehended” and am not afraid to roll up my sleeves to help others — all while having fun and bringing a little “Ronshine” along the way.

What might you work to change about INN if elected?

As a member representative on the INN board since 2020, here are a few initiatives I’ve taken over and would like to continue working on: 

Directors generally help in three broad types of direction: (1) Problem-framing and analysis, (2) Strategy, and (3) Plans, tactics and execution. What’s your strongest suit among the three? (And all of them are “right” answers.)

I am a leader who believes in plans, tactics and execution. Although it’s great to have a vision, if you can’t figure out a way to implement strategy, then you are wasting time.  And as nonprofit leaders, we don’t have the time. Our world is already filled with enough chaos—no matter the size. So I don’t want to just talk . . . I want to act. We must be doers, not sayers.

What specific skills would you like to contribute to the INN board?

I believe I can help INN with networking, diversity training, journalism education and leadership training and development — which is an area I believe our members need and want. I strongly believe in communication, creativity and collaboration.

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