McClatchy announces plan to launch additional nonprofit journalism labs

The logo of the McClatchy Company.

The McClatchy Company last week announced its intention to launch as many as 10 nonprofit, community-funded journalism labs in several of its newsrooms across the country.

The news was mentioned in a press release announcing the promotion of Lauren Gustus, McClatchy’s West Region Editor, to the role of Director of Community Funding Initiatives.

Prior to the promotion, the company says Gustus was already instrumental in launching a handful of community-supported journalism labs in at least two McClatchy newsrooms: An investigative reporting lab at the Miami Herald and an education journalism lab at the Fresno Bee.

Last month, McClatchy’s flagship newspaper the Sacramento Bee announced it, too, would launch a new community-funded journalism lab. The Tipping Point Lab will hire a handful of reporters and one editor to cover Sacramento’s urban growth; the salaries of these journalists will be paid for through community contributions, the company told the Sacramento Business Journal.

“Our goal is to welcome the communities served by McClatchy into a deeper relationship with our local newsrooms,” Gustus said in a press release. “We know what happens in cities and towns across the United States that have lost their local newspaper. In a challenging time for local journalism, it is crucial that we both engage more consistently with those we serve and build a bridge to sustainability.”

The company said Gustus will help launch as many as 10 nonprofit journalism labs next year. The language used in the press release suggested it may not launch labs in 10 individual cities — some newsrooms may have more than one journalism lab — and left open the possibility it may not launch a total of 10 altogether.

McClatchy offered no insight into which other newsrooms may launch community-funded journalism labs, but the company’s statement last week said Gustus would be assisted by an executive who publishes the Fresno Bee, Modesto Bee, Merced Sun-Star and San Luis Obispo Tribune, suggesting the latter three newsrooms may launch similar nonprofit labs.

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