BINJ 2021 Holiday Fundraiser a Success!

Raised over $40,000 thanks to our many supporters–and the work of our staff, board, journalists, and volunteers

Finding funding for producing—or training people to produce or generally trying to “save”—journalism at the state and local level is no picnic. In the nearly seven years since Chris Faraone, John Loftus, and I launched the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, raising money from our ever-growing audience has taken a great deal of effort. Because we and the now well over 100 journalists who have worked with us over the years have to cover the news, evangelize about the importance of the news to a democratic society, help rebuild a collapsing news apparatus, and beg people and institutions for money to support all of those endeavors at the same time. On a constant basis.

Which is why we are especially gratified to report that when we get the $14,000 in matching funds from the Institute for Nonprofit News and the Miami Foundation in March, BINJ will have raised more than $40,000 in our November and December “NewsMatch” funding drive. Easily a record for our small operation. Fans of our work shattered the $14,000 ceiling we were laboring assiduously to reach and contributed more than $26,000 to keep us going in 2022.

This in a second pandemic year when we found it much more difficult to get as much foundation funding as we did in the first COVID year of 2020. In part because pandemic life is now our new normal; so there is less money for journalism on offer from “the good and great.” And in part because some grant funding operations overextended themselves to meet the needs of their communities of interest when the pandemic first hit and had to pull back as the crisis just dragged on and on and on.

Still, by dozens of $25 and $50 and $100 donations from regular people and several larger donations from people with somewhat deeper pockets, we pulled in enough cash to double the first $14,000 we raised and moved on to nearly double that total. All of us at BINJ thank all of you from the bottom of our hearts. Your support means that we can keep syndicating award-winning investigative journalism about Boston and Massachusetts to news organizations like DigBoston around the Commonwealth free of charge in the challenging times we’re all struggling through. And continue our other vital projects as well.

Like our Somerville News Garden experiment, now in its third year, through which we’re trying to work with the residents of one small American city, Somerville, MA, to reverse its descent into becoming a “news desert” where there is no longer any professionally produced local news coverage. And our legislative program, through which—via our seat on the Mass journalism commission we helped bring into being—we hope to help the state legislature figure out ways to support the production of local and state-level journalism without affecting the independence of surviving Bay State news outlets.

Naturally, my colleagues and I could not do all the many things we do at BINJ without the ceaseless labor of dozens of talented journalists, staff, volunteers, and board members. We can’t call out everyone we work with for special favor in a short column, but we would like to thank a few folks who have gone above and beyond in the last year:

  • BINJ Assistant Director Shira Laucharoen, an experienced journalist who has been on staff for just about a year and has done a tremendous job writing nearly 100 articles for our new Somerville Wire—the municipal news service we started last year as part of our Somerville News Garden project—winning a prestigious grant to produce a six-part environmental story in the process.
  • Mary Ellen Myhr, a Somerville resident who has volunteered a great deal of her time to launch and host the Somerville Live Wire public affairs TV show with our partners at the Somerville Media Center, and is also our outgoing BINJ board president and an incoming board member of the new independent municipal foundation we’re starting with SMC, the Somerville Media Fund.
  • BINJ Development Consultant Linda Pinkow, a Somerville resident, journalist, educator, and very experienced fundraiser who has helped us professionalize and expand our grant writing game in ways we already see bearing fruit.
  • Emerson College Prof. Gino Canella, a journalist and educator who has helped the the Somerville News Garden project in innumerable ways for more than two years—notably by running his “Grassroots Journalism” class for a second fall term in a row in 2021 and having his students write feature articles for publication in the Somerville Wire (and this issue of the Dig).

We would also like to thank our expanded BINJ board for all the many things they do month-to-month to keep us going: Zakiya Alake, G. Valentino Ball, Sarah Betancourt, Rev. Irene Monroe, Linda Pinkow (her second BINJ hat), Cindy Rodriguez, Clarence “BOLD” Smith, Jr., Felicia Sullivan, and Saul Tannenbaum.

And we would be remiss if we did not take this opportunity to thank our 2021 institutional funders: Reva & David Logan Foundation, Democracy Fund, National Press Foundation, Fund for Investigative Journalism, American Journalism Project, and the Solutions Journalism Network.

Finally, here’s to all the journalists that wrote for BINJ last year and for several years previous. Our organization would not exist—and would have no reason to exist—without your work in the service of the people of Massachusetts and beyond.

All of us at the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism look forward to another productive year thanks to all of the supporters and colleagues above. And thanks, of course, to our faithful audience, without whom there would be no point in doing the many things we do. Day in and day out. May you all have a happy and healthy new year.

Apparent Horizon—an award-winning political column—is syndicated by the MassWire news service of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. Jason Pramas is BINJ’s executive director, and executive editor and associate publisher of DigBoston. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Somerville Media Center.