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July 20, 2012

We have a new website at www.cvilletomorrow.org

Charlottesville Tomorrow launched a new website Friday, July 20th.  If you  made a comment on a recent story here (our old TypePad blog), it has been moved to the same article on the new site. 

Please update all of your links to Charlottesville Tomorrow's home page to www.cvilletomorrow.org


 

June 05, 2012

Thanks for helping us achieve our first 1 MILLION page views

 

2012-bumper-stickerCharlottesville Tomorrow reached a major milestone today as the "odometer" on our website rolled past 1 million page views!  It took us about 5.5 years to get half way there, and then with your help, we have quickly racked up another half a million views in the past 15 months.

THANK YOU for reading Charlottesville Tomorrow. 

For those of you who have also made a contribution to support our work, we are especially grateful.  We certainly couldn't have done this without you.

If you want to join our growing group of donors, we would appreciate your support and we will mail you one of the fancy new bumper stickers you see above so you can spread the word that you also support community news. 

You gift will help us roll out a brand new website later this summer that addresses many of the great ideas our readers have sent us in our surveys over the past year.  I promise you will be blown away by the improvements and it will be easier than ever to get the news you need to make informed choices about the community's future.

Brian Wheeler
Executive Director
Charlottesville Tomorrow

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January 26, 2012

Update on civic media and community engagement

"Blacksburg Tomorrow"?

We all know the media landscape is changing. More people are reading their news online and looking for multiple sources of news, including social media.  Yet, in many communities local newsrooms are shrinking and the information our democracy and a thriving local community depends upon is getting even harder to find. 


Virginia Tech, Institute for Policy and Governance
Community Voices, November 29, 2011

  • Video timeline:
    • 00:00 to 23:00 - Presentation
    • 23:00 to 40:45 - Q & A with moderator
    • 40:45 to 59:39 - Audience questions

Last winter, I was contacted by Virginia Tech's Institute for Policy and Governance which is involved in an effort to reinvigorate local information resources, news and otherwise, in Blacksburg. That conversation led to an invitation to meet with their residents and Virginia Tech faculty and students to discuss our work in civic media and community engagement.

A video capturing the evening presentation at the Lyric Theater has just recently been published.  I was joined by Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Senior Reporter, and we both found it very interesting to see another Virginia community searching for new ways to share information and engage the public.

Throughout the day we were peppered with questions about the origins of our organization, funding, our board of directors, our daily work, and of course our partnership with The Daily Progress. 

It was an invigorating day, and a good reminder that we have a lot to be thankful for in the resources and information we are able to share in this community.  I sincerely hope Blacksburg proves to be as generous towards whatever form of new media they decide to pursue as our local donors and foundations have proven to be. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without this community’s generous support.

20120115-cover

I shared in Blacksburg some of the metrics below related to our news partnership.  While Media General, the company that owns The Daily Progress, does not pay for articles we write, the partnership pays off for us in many other ways.  For example, our surveys tell us many of you see our content primarily because it's in the paper or on their website. 

In 2012, we are planning a series of events and activities to build even better connections with you.  That has been facilitated by a major grant from the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.  I know many of you are noticing the increased attention our Community Engagement Coordinator, Jennifer Marley, has put on everything from social media to community events.

For those of you interested in reviewing this data and the presentation, we are naturally curious about your observations.  We are half way through this grant, and I’d like to hear what’s on your mind.

Brian Wheeler
Executive Director


Charlottesville Tomorrow + The Daily Progress: Partnership Highlights 2009-2011

  • 487 published stories (newspaper’s online and print editions) including major front page stories, features, and collaborative series - 24 stories a month in 2011
  • 17% increase in newspaper’s content on growth and development (Charlottesville Tomorrow now produces almost 50% of content in that area)
  • 100% of Charlottesville Tomorrow’s stories now appear on the newspaper’s website and more than 80% appear in print
  • 217% increase in Charlottesville Tomorrow's website traffic
  • Significant collaboration between editors and reporters, in both organizations, to maximize quality and timeliness of coverage
  • Joint production of local election voter guides and co-sponsoring of candidate forums - Newspaper makes in-kind gift for voter guide layout and printing
  • There is no direct financial contribution to Charlottesville Tomorrow
 
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May 04, 2011

Charlottesville Tomorrow a finalist for CBIC's Community Award

Cbic-logo

Charlottesville Tomorrow has been named as one of 3 finalists for the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council's 2011 "Community Award." The Community Award recognizes "an enterprise or individual who exemplifies the greatest commitment to and impact upon improving the quality of life in Central Virginia through community involvement."

Nominees for 2011 Community Award:

  • Center for Nonprofit Excellence
  • Charlottesville Tomorrow
  • Jeff Mitchell

CBIC recently named 17 local firms and individuals as finalists for the 13th annual CBIC awards. The awards honor area individuals and organizations making a noteworthy impact on society through entrepreneurship and through the development, use and commercialization of new technologies.

Award recipients will be announced at the CBIC Awards Gala, June 15 at Farmington Country Club. The gala will also feature a keynote talk by Oliver Kuttner, founder and CEO of Edison2, winner of the Progressive Automotive X Prize, on "Racing to the Future by Understanding the Past." Companies and individuals can register to attend the event by June 10.

We appreciate the recognition!

Brian Wheeler, Sean Tubbs, and Charlottesville Tomorrow's Board of Directors

March 18, 2011

Nieman Journalism Lab revisits Charlottesville Tomorrow / Daily Progress partnership

20110314-Nieman Virginia is for (news) lovers: How a Charlottesville newspaper and non-profit make their relationship work

By Justin Ellis, Nieman Journalism Lab, March 14, 2011

A year and a half ago, neither The Daily Progress nor Charlottesville Tomorrow were quite sure their marriage would work. One’s a daily newspaper, the other a nonprofit focused on land use and development issues. What they had in common was the same goal of supplying meaningful news to the people of Charlottesville, Virginia.

Not only did they make their union work, they’re thriving.

Since stories produced by nonprofit Charlottesville Tomorrow have begun appearing in The Progress — something we wrote about in 2009 — the paper’s coverage of growth, transportation, and development stories has increased, traffic to Charlottesville Tomorrow’s website is up, and the partnership has been lauded by Editor & Publisher for “Doing It Right.”

“It’s not something I anticipated, expected, or planned. It was something that happened over time,” said McGregor McCance, managing editor of The Progress. “I’m excited to see what happens next.” [read full story @ Nieman]

March 03, 2011

The Daily Progress & Charlottesville Tomorrow recognized for partnership

DailyProgressDaily Progress Staff Reports
March 3, 2011

Editor & Publisher magazine, one of the newspaper industry’s most respected journals, has honored The Daily Progress in its “10 That Do It Right” national awards program.

The program recognizes newspapers that are doing something particularly well in the face of ongoing industry challenges.

20110303-EP-cover
Editor & Publisher Magazine, March 2011
(View digital editon, story on page 38)

 For The Daily Progress, E&P highlighted the Media General paper for strengthening its local, public affairs reporting through the Progress’s innovative partnership with Charlottesville Tomorrow.

The partnership between a traditional daily paper and a web-only, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization has received national attention and has helped the paper maintain its strength in local public affairs news.

“We’ve learned in the past few years to be open to any ideas that can help us grow our readership,” said Progress Managing Editor McGregor McCance. “You have to be willing to try new things, to come up with different approaches and then look for the next thing to keep it going.”

The partnership includes no exchange of money, and the newspaper retains control over story editing and presentation. Charlottesville Tomorrow, funded entirely by donations and grants, benefits through the added exposure and the newspaper’s assistance producing a nonpartisan local elections guide.

McCance and Charlottesville Tomorrow Executive Director Brian Wheeler began discussions that led to the partnership in August 2009. In the months since, the work has grown beyond meeting coverage to include enterprise reporting and joint projects.

“Overall, we published 20 percent more growth and development news in the first year of the partnership than the previous year,” McCance said.

Wheeler said the partnership has been a "true collaborative effort" that has helped Charlottesville Tomorrow improve the focus and quality of its content and attract new readers and donors.

“We launched in 2005 to share in-depth information on important quality of life issues,” Wheeler said.  “With this unusual partnership, we have witnessed first-hand how reaching people through the local newspaper can help broaden community knowledge and engagement, and that’s good news for the future of our democracy and our community.”

The Progress is the only Virginia paper in the magazine’s list this year. Other winners nationally include the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Seattle Times and the Bend (Ore.) Bulletin.

“We thought the Progress’ partnership with a nonprofit reporting organization was a unique and realistic response to the growing need to do more with less, and it’s a strategy that other newspapers could benefit from looking into,” said E&P Managing Editor Kristina Ackermann.

Daily Progress Publisher Lawrence McConnell said the newspaper has pushed ahead with new products, as well as enhancements to the core newspaper, to maintain its readers and attract new audiences. Among the recent efforts: A Kindle edition; an e-edition; a woman’s magazine; and a standalone site devoted to University of Virginia sports, CavalierInsider.com.

“Our work with Charlottesville Tomorrow is one of best successes so far in what are ongoing efforts to keep improving The Daily Progress for our readers,” McConnell said.

September 27, 2010

An update from Charlottesville Tomorrow on the non-profit news sector

201009-bxb2010 I had the pleasure of attending the Block by Block Community News Summit 2010 this past week in Chicago.  I met a lot of very smart and dedicated people all very passionate about the critical importance of engaging communities in local news. Many of the participants represent what are collectively known in the "new media" realm as the "hyper-locals."  About 125 people were able to attend and our hosts Michele McLellan and Jay Rosen deserve a lot of credit for their work putting together a great conference.

A big take away was that Charlottesville Tomorrow is not alone. There are thousands of people around the country working on hyper-local news sites.  Many are 1-2 person operations run by former journalists who lost their jobs in the newspaper industry.  They have launched over the past 6 years as both for-profit and non-profit companies trying to fill an information gap in their community.  At over five years, Charlottesville Tomorrow is among the veterans in this group.

While in good company, Charlottesville Tomorrow remains unique, particularly in its media partnerships and approach to community engagement. We still appear to be the only hyper-local in the country with a substantial relationship with a print newspaper.  Further, our investment in a community wiki (www.cvillepedia.org), in community visualizations (www.cvilletomorrow.org/cville3d), in non-partisan election coverage, and in outreach and participation with other business and community groups appears to be uncommon. The Block by Block participants demonstrated a number of unique approaches and new ideas that we will learn from and apply here in Charlottesville.

Given the uniqueness of our partnership with The Daily Progress, I want to share some very positive data covering the first year of our work (Sept 2009 to Aug 2010).

Partnership Highlights 2009-2010

  • 145 published stories (newspaper’s online and print editions) including major front page stories, features, and collaborative series
  • 20% increase in newspaper’s content on growth and development (Charlottesville Tomorrow now produces 23% of content in that area)
  • 100% of Charlottesville Tomorrow’s stories now appear on the newspaper’s website (automated RSS feed) and 50% appear in print
  • Significant collaboration between editors, reporters and graphic artists, in both organizations, to maximize quality and timeliness of coverage
  • Joint production of local election voter guides
  • There is no direct financial contribution to Charlottesville Tomorrow

The benefits of this partnership to Charlottesville Tomorrow have included increased exposure, greater credibility, access to the newspaper's talented team, and most importantly an increasing number of people informed by our high quality in-depth local news.

As always, we would appreciate any feedback about this ongoing collaboration.  You can leave a comment on this post or contact me directly at bwheeler@cvilletomorrow.org or via phone at 434.260.1533.
 
Brian Wheeler
Executive Director
Charlottesville Tomorrow

"The partnership is clearly benefitting our readers,
who are getting more public affairs reporting at a
time when most news organizations are pulling back.
The Daily Progress is a better, more consistent
newspaper because of this partnership."

McGregor McCance
Managing Editor, The Daily Progress

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April 26, 2010

Miller Center report on the media and democratic governance; Update on Daily Progress partnership

MillerCenter-smThe Miller Center of Public Affairs recently published the results of a year-long study of the state of media and democratic governance. The project was initiated by former Governor Gerald Baliles after he gave a speech at the 2009 Virginia Press Association upon his acceptance of the 2009 VPA Virginian of the Year Award. His speech was entitled: "The Fourth Estate and the Governance of the Country."

In February 2010, I had the privilege to brief the Miller Center team in Washington, D.C., along with McGregor McCance, Managing Editor of The Daily Progress, as they were interested in a progress report on the unique partnership between our organizations.

Governor Baliles released the Miller Center's report at the 2010 VPA meeting [download remarks].

Report Introduction

"I began talking with friends and colleagues about the possible dangers lurking for citizens in a democracy with fewer journalists, fewer major sources of traditional news, and an explosion of untested formats such as blogs, bloggers, and social media....For the past year, the Miller Center has reached out across the nation to key media leaders, stakeholders, policy makers and academic experts and created a meeting space to systematically address the future prospects for the infrastructure of news journalism and the effects of new trends in newspapers and media on the governance of the country."

Gerald L. Baliles
Director, Miller Center of Public Affairs
University of Virginia
Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia (1986–1990)

Looking over the results from the fist six-months of the partnership between The Daily Progress and Charlottesville Tomorrow, I think we have some very positive data to share.

  • About 50% of Charlottesville Tomorrow's stories are now published in The Daily Progress
  • 20100426-DP-metrics With the addition of Charlottesville Tomorrow's reporting, the newspaper's coverage of growth and development issues has increased by about 20% as compared to the twelve months before the partnership (see chart at right or download this summary with trends before/after)
  • We have established very collaborative operational procedures between our editorial and reporting teams
  • We partnered to produce the 2009 voter guide for local elections
  • The public is getting access to a lot more information about growth and development issues in the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County

As always, we would appreciate any feedback about this ongoing collaboration.  You can leave a comment on this post or contact me directly at bwheeler@cvilletomorrow.org or via phone at 434.260.1533.

Brian Wheeler
Executive Director
Charlottesville Tomorrow

October 08, 2009

Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University assesses the Charlottesville Tomorrow-Daily Progress partnership

20091008-Neiman-Post By Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, October 8, 2009

In a story today, the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University shares an early assessment of the Charlottesville Tomorrow-Daily Progress partnership which began in August 2009.

In my interview with Mac Slocum, he confirmed what I have heard from other experts around the country, that this partnership is unique. Unique in the nature of reporting being provided by an independent non-profit organization to a daily newspaper, but also in Charlottesville Tomorrow's longevity (four years) as a hyperlocal "new media" organization. 

Nieman staff also gave our partnership some much appreciated national attention when they mentioned it in a September interview for a New York Times article related to the PBS show Frontline.

The Nieman Journalism Lab is a "collaborative attempt to figure out how quality journalism can survive and thrive in the Internet age."  In reviewing their website further today, I was struck by this statement: "We don’t pretend to have even five percent of all the answers, but we do know a lot of smart people." 

That has very much been a guiding principle for Charlottesville Tomorrow over the past four years.  We were early pioneers podcasting and blogging local government when we launched in September 2005, and we have very much been explorers in the realm of new media journalism ever since. Along the way, we haven't had all the answers, but we have invented and refined an in-depth approach to covering local government and local elections, and for building community knowledge, that has been well received in this university town. Our mission is to inform and engage the public so they can find the answers, so they can reach their own conclusions and make informed decisions about the important questions facing this community.

We have also been guided and supported by a lot of smart people in the Charlottesville area who have been board members, donors, and advisors.  I have to take this opportunity to thank them again for their courage to try something new and let it evolve.  Our partnership with the Daily Progress would not have been possible without them, nor can it continue without the the community's ongoing support.

Finally, here are a few quotes from today's story that I think are particularly significant.

"In online-nonprofit-news terms, Charlottesville Tomorrow is an old timer. It’s been covering the growth and development around the Virginia city since 2005 — back when “twitter” was still a term confined to ornithological circles...."

"Debating the pros and cons of a nonprofit news outlet requires tracking its coverage over an extended period of time....What’s interesting about Charlottesville Tomorrow is that it has a track record. It can be judged. The Daily Progress, in perhaps the most overt thumbs-up a newspaper can offer, opened its print and online platforms to a nonprofit outsider."

"Here’s the thing, though: Charlottesville Tomorrow has an agenda. At least one defined by its choice of topic — it focuses entirely on growth and development issues. Clearly, Wheeler cares about the topic.  But the commingling of agenda and objectivity is where Charlottesville Tomorrow is most instructive, because the organization is balancing that agenda against its hardwired objectivity."  [view article]

As always, we welcome your feedback which can be sent via e-mail or by adding comments below.

August 23, 2009

Daily Progress & Charlottesville Tomorrow form partnership

Ct-dailyprogress

By The Daily Progress & Charlottesville Tomorrow
Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Daily Progress and Charlottesville Tomorrow have formed a partnership to share news content.

Under the agreement, news articles written by Charlottesville Tomorrow staff members will appear in the print edition of The Daily Progress.

Charlottesville Tomorrow is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that produces news coverage of land-use, growth and transportation issues in Albemarle County and Charlottesville.

Cvillepedia2009 Its articles and audio podcasts are distributed primarily through the CvilleTomorrow.org Web site, but also through e-mail and social media such as Facebook, Twitter and a new community wiki known as cvillepedia.org. Charlottesville Tomorrow also publishes local election voter guides, which are mailed to residents.

Daily Progress Managing Editor McGregor McCance said the newspaper’s readers will benefit by having more local content about these specific issues, which complements coverage provided by the paper’s reporters and editors.

“In the media business and all businesses, I think companies are looking for strong partners to help both sides get better,” he said. “After four years of reading their content, we know it’s accurate, fair and balanced.”

Signup Charlottesville Tomorrow was founded in September 2005. It’s funded entirely by private donations and governed by a board of directors.

“The Daily Progress is really thinking creatively about how to deliver more in-depth news to its readers,” said Brian Wheeler, executive director of Charlottesville Tomorrow. “This is one of the first such media partnerships in the United States between a local daily paper and a local non-profit, both deeply committed to bearing witness to the work of our government and to delivering that reporting and analysis broadly to the public.”

The agreement does not include any payment between the newspaper and Charlottesville Tomorrow for content or promotional material.

View this announcement and comments on DailyProgress.com