Signal Cleveland, a groundbreaking nonprofit local news organization that fuses community building with reporting, officially launched Tuesday, November 15, unveiling a website full of community resources and civic tools as well as the newsroom’s first stories. A coalition of Cleveland-based organizations - including the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland - partnered to launch this independent, community-led, nonprofit newsroom serving Cleveland. The coalition made the announcement about the 2022 launch late last year.
With a staff of 15 and growing, Signal Cleveland is poised to greatly increase the volume of news coverage that residents have indicated is important to them, including government accountability, economic development, health, and education news and features, as well as explainers and guides to help residents navigate civic life. To make its reporting fully accessible to all Greater Cleveland residents, regardless of reading level or ability to pay, Signal Cleveland is distributing its coverage and resources by email and soon by text message. Its content will also be accessible on social media platforms in text and video form. Insights from the newsroom will also be available on radio at WOVU 95.9 FM and on television at WKYC-Channel 3.
“Signal Cleveland is taking a unique approach to original local news reporting in Greater Cleveland that weaves community building with top-quality journalism,” Editor-in-Chief Lila Mills said. “Our work requires an intentional approach to everything we do–from how coverage priorities are decided to how we report stories and distribute critical information. There is no blueprint for what we’re setting out to do—but we will work daily to build trust with the communities we serve.”
Signal Cleveland is also home to Cleveland Documenters, a program that trains and pays residents to cover public meetings–so far 600 people representing almost every ZIP code in Cleveland. Their notes, and stories reported from their work, are all available for free on the new website and in a weekly newsletter, which thousands of Clevelanders are already reading. The Signal newsroom relies on Cleveland Documenters and to collaborate on gathering information that is important to communities.
Signal Cleveland is named for noted Clevelander Garrett Morgan – inventor of the three-way traffic signal – and for the role of local news as a beacon and trusted guide. Its logo was inspired by the crossroads symbol that some historians believe represented Cleveland on Freedom Quilts used to mark locations on the Underground Railroad. The newsroom leadership, which includes Editor-in-Chief Lila Mills, Community Managing Editor Lawrence Caswell, and News Managing Editor Mark Naymik, have long-standing roots in Cleveland. They share a deep understanding of the community and a strong commitment to public-service journalism.
One of the largest startups of its kind in the country, with $7.5 million in funding from a strong coalition of philanthropies and individuals, Signal Cleveland is among a group of media nonprofits forging a path to sustain local, public-service journalism. The Signal Cleveland newsroom is the first in what will be a larger network of independent local newsrooms across Ohio.
“Signal Cleveland has a bold mission to revitalize the local news environment in Greater Cleveland to provide all residents reliable, relevant and responsive journalism they seek,” said Tom Katzenmeyer, Signal Cleveland’s board chair and president and CEO of the Greater Columbus Arts Council. “We are proud of the robust commitments already made to our newsroom from local philanthropies and other organizations and look forward to bringing this innovative journalism model to other parts of Ohio.”
Signal Cleveland has support from a wide range of local and national nonprofit and charitable organizations, including the Cleveland Foundation, the American Journalism Project, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Visible Voice Charitable Fund, the St. Luke’s Foundation, the Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, and the Center for Community Solutions.
For more information about Signal Cleveland, go to signalcleveland.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.
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