Four candidates have filed for four member-elected seats on the INN board.
Two are the existing seats for two-year terms that have been held by Anne Galloway and Tim Griggs. Griggs resigned in June to avoid perceived conflicts of interest due to a consulting agreement and so is not running for re-election.
Two are new elected seats created by the bylaws update this year to expand member representation on the board. Of the new seats, one is for a two-year term and one is for a one-year term. That staggered term length was designed so that on an ongoing basis, three of the six elected seats will be up for renewal each year.
The three highest vote-getters will get two-year seats; the fourth vote-getter will get the one-year seat and can run again next year for a regular two-year term.
All voting is electronic, and members will receive the voting link via the INN listserv. Voting ends at 5:45 p.m. CT on Thursday, June 16.
Meet the candidates:
Bio: I've been the editor of The Lens since its founding on Nov. 1, 2009. In our six years, we've attracted a talented staff that has served our readership and community well, getting results and winning national recognition from our peers. Before 2009, I ran a watchdog team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I was an editor at The Times-Picayune for 15 years prior to that. I serve on the board of Local Independent Online New Publishers, which works with nonprofit and for-profit newsrooms. I earned a journalism degree from Kent State University in 1988, which (unbelievably to me) means I've been a journalist for 27 years.
Statement: I've benefitted greatly from my association with INN, and I want to share what I've learned to make us all better. I'm most proud of the multi-platform collaborative work we do at The Lens with a host of partners, locally and nationally. I've learned that we're all stronger when we work with our colleagues. I hope to develop partnerships within our network for reporting, fundraising and revenue development. For those of us who run display sponsorships, I'd like to create a network to pitch joint sponsorship. The demographics of our readership help us reach a prime audience. In short, we each represent a valuable commodity to each other and to funders. I want to ensure we all make the most of that.
Bio: Anne Galloway is the editor of VTDigger and the executive director of the Vermont Journalism Trust. VTDigger is an online nonprofit news organization that publishes daily news about politics, government and business in Vermont. When Galloway founded VTDigger in 2009 she had $9,000 in grant funding, a WordPress account and no staff. Today, VTDigger has a $1.1 million budget, 200,000 unique readers a month and 14 staffers.
Statement: The past two years have been a difficult time for INN, but the shift from the startup phase to an established organization is an essential stage in INN's evolution. I am honored to have been part of that evolution. I was glad to serve on the hiring committee, and I am very proud of the work Sue Cross has done to restore faith in INN. I hope to continue to support her success. As the founder of VTDigger, I can also offer perspective on what it's like to grow a small operation with very little capital into a mid-size company.
Bio: Lee Keough is editor in chief and co-founder of NJ Spotlight, a website that delivers news and analysis about New Jersey public policy and politics. Now in its sixth year, NJ Spotlight has won dozens of editorial awards for investigative reporting and its coverage of education, environment, energy, and healthcare. It has been named Best News website in its category by the Online News Association and has been the recipient of the Edward R. Murrow awards, as well as awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Garden State Journalist Association. Keough began her career at a small New Jersey daily, the Herald News, where she covered crime, municipalities, and politics. She later wrote for a variety of computer magazines, eventually becoming the editor in chief of McGraw-Hill’s Data Communications, considered the bible of the networking industry. Charting the creation and rise of the Internet, the magazine under her leadership won 14 Jesse H. Neal awards, regarded as the highest honor in the business trade press. It also was one of the the very first magazine websites. Under the aegis of the United Nations, Keough served as editorial director of the then-largest international trade conference, responsible for its daily publication, website, and television programming. After recognizing that companies would begin to bypass trade publications to reach customers, she founded the Forsite Group, which helped them develop their own content. After several years, Keough missed her first love -- journalism -- so in 2010 she cofounded NJ Spotlight.
Statement: Funding is the most pressing concern for most nonprofit news sites. That’s why I would like to see INN take a lead advocacy role in defining our market segment and communicating the critical role we play in the journalism community to potential funders, supporters and the general public. The great work INN has done in shared services, training, and creating a community of interests must continue and expand. (I have a couple of ideas.) But advocacy is what we desperately need in order to get our community on sure footing. Specifically, INN needs to advocate for us with national foundations and other major funders. These foundations are unlikely to fund small sites for many reasons. But some may be willing to create dedicated pools of money for which we can apply. The key message? We are professional organizations that serve not only our own readers, but other journalism enterprises, which rely on us for in-depth and watchdog reporting. Second, I’d like to see INN develop toolkits that sites can adapt for their own use to help advocate for funding with local foundations and individuals. The kits need to include a market scope — donors should understand we represent a national trend — as well as research, slide decks, and the like. With the Philadelphia media moving to nonprofit, along with word that venture-backed sites could be in trouble, now is the time to put a stake in the ground and communicate that nonprofit news sites are the future of journalism.
Bio: Norberto Santana Jr., is an award-winning investigative reporter with 20 years of experience at major daily newspapers. Before founding Voice of OC in 2009, Santana was a lead investigative reporter for the Orange County Register and spent a decade covering local governments across Southern California with newspapers like the San Diego Union Tribune and the San Bernardino County Sun. He’s also worked as a staff writer with Congressional Quarterly in Washington, D.C. and covered territorial government with the U.S. Virgin Islands Daily News. In addition to his experience as a journalist, the Southern California native has a master’s in Latin American Studies and has worked as an elections analyst with the National Endowment for Democracy. He also has direct experience on Internet start-ups as one of the founders of CubaNet.org, a website for dissident writers inside Cuba that has operated since 1995. As publisher of Voice of OC, Santana has worked on numerous aspects of building a start-up civic newsroom including recruiting and retaining diverse staff, board members, foundations and distribution partnerships. Over the past six years, Voice of OC has published nearly 6,000 stories, created a following of roughly 50,000 monthly unique visitors, successfully led two public records lawsuits and reached the $500,000 budget mark. The newsroom employs a half dozen reporters and editors and is expanding this year with a membership, sponsorship and events program.
Statement: As nonprofit news publishers, we’ve all decided to confront incredible challenges. Speaking truth to power while also trying to fundraise from it. Reporting out the news while also figuring out how to market it. As a start-up, nonprofit investigative news publisher since 2009, I’ve dealt with the wide array of challenges that come with running a small community newsroom. I believe INN can help us forge a non-profit business model that can impact communities across America in a real way. In many ways, INN is the best shot a small public service publisher has. I’ve been a supporter of the mission since the original Pocantico Declaration back in 2009 and have benefited from virtually all of the member services – including an INN Innovation grant - over the years. As a board member, I would advocate that INN continue to help us develop key areas of our newsrooms, promote best practices and advocate for us as a community. In the immediate term, I see a need to focus on developing IT services (like Largo) and helping us fundraise – in our communities, with tools like membership programs - and at the national level, advocating to get foundations better engaged with nonprofit newsrooms.