As the calendar shifted to November, we at The Maine Monitor kicked off our year-end fundraising campaign, aiming to raise $25,000 or more. Thanks to a matching program from NewsMatch, we have an opportunity to turn that into $50,000.
Why is local journalism important and the Monitor worthy of your financial support?
Put simply, from Thomas Jefferson: “Wherever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”
We’re different from other Maine news outlets. We don’t charge readers to consume our content. No ads, no paywalls. That makes fundraising campaigns like this one so crucial.
More than that though, as a digital newsroom and typically a biweekly publication, we are not tied to daily and increasingly early print publication deadlines. That allows us to produce in-depth, investigative stories.
When our journalists have the right stories, as they often do, our staff can spend weeks and even months pursuing the truth.
We tell the stories that other newsrooms do not, such as Samantha Hogan’s award-winning investigation uncovering that more than a quarter of Maine attorneys disciplined in the past decade for serious professional misconduct were hired as lawyers for the poor.
We dive deeper into the issues that the mainstream media also is reporting on, as seen in a recent series by Barbara Walsh, a Pulitzer Prize winner and Monitor staff member. Many Maine newsrooms covered a spate of child homicides in Maine over the summer of 2021, but Walsh took a deeper look, speaking with school employees who knew Marissa Kennedy, the heartbroken relatives of Maddox Williams, experts, child advocates and state officials.
Why we exist
A quarter of U.S. newspapers have ceased publication in the last 15 years. Maine witnessed a 19% decrease in newsrooms between 2004 and 2019, with six in 10 newspaper publishing jobs lost in the state since 2000.
Nearly 2,000 communities across the country that were served by a local news outlet in 2004 saw that newsroom shutter by the beginning of 2020.
Your support allows us to combat that trend in Maine.
We have a small but strong staff, including four full-time reporters covering environment and energy, public health, state politics and government accountability, plus a dozen regular contributors.
After we publish our stories, we share them with 140 print, broadcast and web-based media outlets throughout Maine and New England. We share our stories for free, and they are often republished, which amplifies the impact of our journalism. We also use many well-known social media channels.
Organizations like the Monitor are on the rise, but we need your help.
Thirty-six percent of the revenue that nonprofit newsrooms tallied in 2020 came from individual donations, according to the Institute of Nonprofit Newsroom’s Index Report.
Small-dollar contributions grew for most nonprofit newsrooms in 2020, with nonprofit news attracting more first-time donors than ever before, according to Emily Roseman, the report’s author. Donations of under $1,000 increased for most outlets, she noted.
“The number of people who gave a nonprofit news outlet a small-dollar contribution jumped by almost 50% from 2019 to 2020, from an average 846 small-dollar donors per outlet in 2019 to over 1,200 in 2020,” Roseman said.
Several factors contributed to growing attention to nonprofit news in recent years, according to Roseman.
“There’s a growing awareness of the connection between a high-functioning press and democracy,” she said. “There’s also been growing civic concern around the news crisis as misinformation runs rampant, and more and more commercial newsrooms close their doors, pointing to the need for high-quality sources of news with a public service mission.”
Why our work matters
Our full-time reporters are supported and partially funded by Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.
The nonprofit organization exists to place skilled journalists in newsrooms across the country, covering communities and issues otherwise missed.
“Local reporting matters because democracy matters,” said Alison Bethel, the organization’s vice president of corps excellence. “It matters because communities need to be informed about the issues that are key to their development and success.”
Communities can be gravely impacted without investigative journalism and local reporting.
“Report for America strives to solve the problem of the decline in local news reporting that has occurred with the decimation of newspapers and other news media in America,” Bethel said.
We at The Maine Monitor believe that every month, we live up to our mission statement: To deliver fearless, independent, citizen-supported, nonpartisan journalism that informs Mainers about the issues impacting our state and inspires them to take action. Through investigative and in-depth journalism, we engage readers to participate and connect to create a better Maine.
We hope that you agree. We ask you to lend us your support so we can meet or exceed our goal of raising $50,000 by the end of 2021.