Online Journalism Project to launch new radio station at New Haven Independent, improve local news access with $150,000 from Knight Foundation

Press Release

July 30, 2015

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. – July 30, 2015 — An experiment that will combine community radio with a local online news site to test a new model for audience engagement and local news sustainability is being launched by the Online Journalism Project with $150,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The station, WNHH-LP 103.5 FM, will be incorporated into the New Haven Independent (newhavenindependent.org), one of the earliest and longest-surviving online-only local daily news websites in the nation. With Knight support, Online Journalism Project will hire staff for the new Web-streamed, podcast radio station that will launch in mid-August. The station will air in New Haven and Hamden, Conn., broadcasting at 103.5 FM for 12 hours each weekday. Shows will be Web-streamed 24 hours a day on the Independent’s website.

To delve deeper into particular stories and topics, programs will combine on-the-street reporting with daily interview shows. Local arts and cultural coverage will expand to include radio programming and online videos. Daily programs will also be converted to podcasts and become part of regular news and cultural articles on the Independent website; and they will be available for download from multiple Web locations.

The Independent has lined up two dozen hosts for the programs, a mix of news, radio and community talent. The media organization will further support local talent by training community leaders to make radio shows, in partnership with New Haven’s local NPR station.

“The project will help test a model for incorporating radio, including issues-oriented grassroots community broadcasts with newer Web-centered formats, as a way to attract audiences and build revenue,” said Shazna Nessa, Knight Foundation director for journalism. “We hope that learning and insights developed through the project will help fill gaps in local news coverage and help media organizations discover new innovations in storytelling.”

“As we approach our second decade in business, we're looking to harness the explosion of webcasts to take our journalism and civic-participation missions to a new level,” said Paul Bass, Online Journalism Project executive director.

The Independent was the focus of “The Wired City: Reimagining Journalism and Civic Life in the Post-Newspaper Age,” a book by Prof. Dan Kennedy (University of Massachusetts Press). It is one of a number of similar sites in the country that have filled gaps in local news coverage in the face of shrinking legacy print daily newsrooms, while introducing new ways to engage audiences and tell stories.

Support for Online Journalism Project is part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to help news organizations establish long-term sustainability in the digital age and advance excellence in journalism. Knight has made many investments in this area, including the $5 million Knight Local Media Initiative, which has supported more than 50 organizations in developing innovations in media.

About Online Journalism Project

The Online Journalism Project is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that launched in 2005 to publish and promote professional-quality local public-interest news websites. Its sites include the New Haven Independent, Valley Independent Sentinel, and Branford Eagle.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

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Contacts:

Paul Bass, Executive Director, Online Journalism Project, 203-668-5790, [email protected]

Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, [email protected]