A bright next chapter for the American Journalism Project
I’m happy to share that today the American Journalism Project has elected new board leadership, completing a phenomenal team at the helm of an organization I am proud to have co-founded. I am grateful to Joe Natoli, AJP’s new board chair; Irving Washington, its new vice chair; and Sarabeth Berman, the organization’s first-ever CEO, for their generous service as they lead AJP into its next chapter.
Like so many of life’s best projects, creating AJP was a mission I took on with enthusiasm but also some apprehension. I knew that recreating local news required mobilizing serious philanthropic muscle quickly and with care, grounded in values of representation, equity, and democracy.
But, having a full-time job as co-founder and CEO of Chalkbeat, an organization whose success I knew would be essential to the field, my original preference was that someone else start it, someone with more capacity. Instead, I managed to find another person in my exact same boat: determined this kind of thing needed to happen, but insistent that he wouldn’t lead it. That person was John Thornton, a Texas venture capitalist from Wichita who turned out to be a kindred spirit, co-founder, and friend.
The three and a half years that followed have been an energizing exercise in working ourselves out of our volunteer jobs. John and I joined with the country’s leading journalism philanthropists to mobilize over $40M toward a Fund 1 target of $50M and $10M towards a future fund for local news, made game-changing gifts to 16 nonprofits serving diverse communities around the country, and recruited a team and board who have dedicated themselves to ensuring those news organizations’ growth and success.
Today, I’m stepping off the AJP board with total confidence in the organization’s future.
I also leave more confident than ever that we can and will make local news more representative, more in service, and more durable, with the speed democracy demands. I’ll share more about what Chalkbeat has planned to that end soon.
I want to say thank you to the many people who make up team AJP for believing in the vision and making it real. Thank you to the donors who joined with me and John to declare that journalism and democracy must be a philanthropic priority. Thank you to the grantees who are providing communities with the precious resource of truth; I know how hard your job is, and I thank you for doing it. Of course, thank you to my beloved team at Chalkbeat: board, staff, and many readers, too. You were the inspiration for AJP, and also contributed to building it.
I have learned so much from this project, and I don’t expect that to stop. My dream was always to create a community where people dedicated to reinventing the business of local news had the resources to grow together. I have a feeling our story is only just beginning. And for that, I count myself as the luckiest — if initially reluctant — cofounder on earth.