Last month we shared with you the exciting news that the PRT is participating in NewsMatch, a national matching funds campaign for nonprofit newsrooms. NewsMatch will match every dollar that we raise from individuals, small businesses and family trusts between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, up to a cap of $20,000.

In 2018 NewsMatch raised more than $7.6 million dollars, the largest-ever grassroots fundraising campaign for nonprofit news. This program is run by the Miami Foundation and funded at a national level by Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Dirk and Natasha Ziff Family Foundation, and the Present Progressive Fund at Schwab Charitable, along with supporting partners across the U.S.

But why should you support the PRT? What role does it play in our communities? And ask yourself, if we don’t bring you these local stories, who will?

Healthy local communities require healthy local journalism. Across the country newspapers are closing down, as the old model of for-profit journalism, which relies on advertisers to turn a profit, is failing. In many places only “ghost papers remain, mere shadows of their former selves,” Penelope Abernathy, of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC writes. This loss of local coverage has resulted in what is termed ‘news deserts,’ areas with little or no access to local news.

“For a decade or so, researchers have found that when the public lacks access to information about local issues, democracy itself suffers,” Emily Benson wrote in the December issue of High Country News. “As local newspapers shrink and close, people interested in the news are left more reliant on national outlets. As a result, they become more disconnected from their own communities and elected officials, less interested in voting.”

In areas with no local news coverage voters tend to vote more on straight party lines rather than considering the strengths of individual candidates. People are less likely to vote, and politics become more polarized.

Meanwhile the field of nonprofit journalism is expanding rapidly and filling some of this void. The Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) has grown to have 230 members. We are proud to belong to this organization which provides technical, developmental and business support to its members.

As the PRT marks its tenth anniversary, we continue to provide local stories that resonate with our audience, written by our talented writers who all live in the area. Our online presence is growing, and you can now sign up for breaking news alerts and our twice monthly newsletter. You can visit our website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

2020 is an election year and we plan on informing our readers about local issues and candidates. We are looking forward to a new collaboration with the U of A School of Journalism this spring and to expanding our online presence. The unique news from our local communities and the PRT’s method of reporting is receiving increased interest regionally and nationally.

We have an estimated readership of 4,000 people at present. Last year we increased the number of donors and hope to build on that success during this NewsMatch campaign.

I think our founder, Walter Andrew, would be proud of the paper he started in 2009. I know we are, and we hope you are.

Please help us continue to bring you the news.