How You Can Support Community Journalism

 

The Mike Levine Journalism Education Fund was established to honor and memorialize Mike Levine, the beloved executive editor and columnist of the Times Herald-Record.

 

The fund is dedicated to helping journalists pursue “the news of the day with the compassion and craft that became the hallmark of Mike’s work.”

The fund, which is a nonprofit, is managed under the auspices of the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan, based in Montgomery, N.Y. You can donate to the fund here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What will the fund do with proceeds from the book?

The money will underwrite scholarships for journalists to attend conferences run by Investigative Reporters and Editors, workshops on narrative writing (a form of story-telling that Levine excelled in) or similar training opportunities that might arise.

Why does training journalists matter?

Ask any newsroom leader, and they will tell you that one of the first things to get cut in their budget is money for training. 

The tools and ways we report and convey stories have changed but the fundamentals of accuracy, fairness and thoroughness have not. 

Levine placed a premium on training and promoted a culture of learning, whether they were informal brown bag lunches where reporters got together to talk about story structure or more formal sessions about investigative reporting.

As he said in a speech about watchdog reporting: "So with training money we didn’t have, the publisher and I went to a Poynter watchdog conference. We asked IRE to come to our newsroom and give a two-day workshop for our entire staff. Our newsroom got down to business with four quick projects, each one climbing higher on the ladder of chutzpah."

Why is community journalism important?

 

comprehensive study released in October 2018 found that 1,300 communities across the country have lost news coverage in a phenomenon that researchers referred to as "news deserts."

 

And in those areas that still have coverage, many are home to "ghost newspapers" -- hollowed-out newsrooms that are a shadow of their former selves because of severe cuts in personnel.

 

Those cuts, in turn, mean there are fewer reporters keeping an eye on public officials and the public purse.

Further, the steady loss of local newspapers and journalists across the country has contributed to the nation’s political polarization, a study found.

 

What has the fund done in the past?

The Mike Levine Journalism Education Fund in the past has hosted two intensive weekend workshops pairing young reporters with mentors who were veterans of  the trade.

 

Attendees were competitively selected and had a story they had started and needed help to complete.

As workshop mentor Michael Kruse noted: "We do what we can with great purpose and humility to carry on what Mike started. This weekend doesn’t get less important as the years go by -- it gets more important."

Here is a glimpse at what the workshop was like and what it produced.