Coming: The Marshall Project
This national organization, which is devoted to covering criminal justice, plans to launch a news operation in Cleveland in 2022. Funded in part by a $750,000 three-year grant from the George Gund Foundation, the newsroom will have six people initially, says Marshall Project president Carroll Bogert. The Pulitzer Prize-winning organization, which takes its name from Thurgood Marshall, the first African American justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, previously reported on criminal justice issues in Cleveland, from the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice by Cleveland police to the policing of the Republican National Convention in 2016. Bogert noted the depth of criminal justice issues in Cleveland, including deaths at the Cuyahoga County Jail and the consent decree between the U.S. Justice Department and Cleveland police. “There’s a lot to write about,” she says. Project organizers were also drawn to Cleveland by its philanthropic infrastructure and the opportunity to collaborate with existing media outlets. “Our purpose is to be additive to the media landscape,” Bogert says.
Going: The Devil Strip
In 2019, The Devil Strip — an Akron-based journalism outlet — announced plans to become the first newsgathering co-op in the United States. The move was cited as a unique solution in a challenging media landscape. But now, the publication is fighting for its life. On Oct. 15, 2021, staff members were informed that the publication was no longer financially viable and were all laid off. “We felt blindsided,” says Katie Robbins, who joined the co-op’s board over the summer. “We’re trying to understand how it unraveled so quickly.” Robbins, along with remaining board members Emily Dressler and Richelle Wardell, is spearheading efforts to keep the publication afloat. But, for now at least, a media voice has been stilled, and it’s an important one — particularly as local news outlets like the Akron Beacon Journal and Canton Repository are assimilated into the Gannett/GateHouse monolith. “I can’t imagine the media landscape without The Devil Strip,” Robbins says. “It’s critical to have an independent outlet that’s committed to telling the stories of our community.”
Coming: The American Journalism ProjectLast November, the American Journalism Project announced plans for a Cleveland newsroom starting in 2022. The organization is searching for a CEO and editor-in-chief before filling other roles. The plan is to cover issues related to housing, environment, education and health with a 25-person newsroom. The organization has received funding through a series of local and national philanthropies, including the Cleveland Foundation, the City Club of Cleveland and the Knight Foundation, which is based in Florida but was started by John and James Knight, who published the Akron Beacon Journal. “Our research shows that the bottom line is — Cleveland needs more local reporting, and that reporting must
be responsive to the needs of Greater Cleveland residents,” says Michael Ouimette, a senior vice president for the American Journalism Project. “The organization this coalition is funding is substantial as far as nonprofit newsrooms go, but it has to grow and get a lot bigger if it’s going to be able to do the job.”