Latino Communities Reporting Lab to grow with Knight Foundation grant



Record-Journal staff

The Record-Journal will expand its Latino Communities Reporting Lab – including hiring new staff and developing new media products to better serve Latino audiences – through a recent grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The grant provides additional support for the creation of a Latino Communities Listening Playbook outlining strategies for reaching underserved communities to be shared with other media organizations nationwide based on the Record-Journal’s more than two-year experience in developing and launching the Latino Communities Reporting Lab.

“We are honored and thrilled to receive this grant from Knight Foundation, which will help us build long-term sustainability for our Latino Communities Reporting Lab so we can continue to provide trusted local news and information for and with our local Latino audiences as well as fulfill our Lab's mission to amplify the voices of our local Latino communities,” said Record-Journal Publisher & Executive Vice President Liz White Notarangelo.

“We are also happy to pay it forward by sharing this model with other media companies across the country so we can all better serve underserved communities,” White Notarangelo added.

The Record-Journal launched the Latino Communities Reporting Lab in 2021 after an extensive listening tour with more than 80 community members identifying a need for more local news for and about Latino communities.

The Lab is philanthropically funded through a variety of local, state and national sources in partnership with a non-profit fiscal sponsor, the Meriden-Wallingford Community Foundation, which enables the Record-Journal to accept foundation funding and tax-deductible donations. 

The grant from Knight Foundation will fund two additional full-time positions, a director of development and a bilingual coordinator for ongoing listening, event coordination & marketing implementation and translation. 

The new additions will join existing staff members, Latino Communities Editor Claudia Hilario-García and reporters Crystal Elescano, Lau Guzmán and David Matos, who produce content regularly published in both English and Spanish.

"It is gratifying to know that the Latino Communities Reporting Lab is supported by entities such as the Knight Foundation,” said Hilario-García. “Being recipients of these funds, in a certain way, confirms that the last year has been one of full growth for our section (and) that all the teamwork has had a positive impact on our Latino communities.

“Over the next year we will be expanding our workforce and that is very exciting. We will continue to grow while providing a better product to our audiences,” Hilario-García said.

The grant also provides support for the development and marketing of new products dedicated to serving local Latino communities’ needs and reaching new Latino audiences.

“The grant will help us determine with our community what the next phase of the product formats are for the Lab through continued listening and help us market our content to continue to reach audiences we aren't currently reaching,” White Notarangelo said.

Sustainability

Terms of the grant require that all funding be directed specifically to the sustainability and growth of the Latino Communities Reporting Lab. 

Amid continued long-term and short-term economic disruption in the news industry, the development and growth of the Lab is worthy of recognition and further support, according to Duc Luu, director of journalism at Knight Foundation.

“High-quality local journalism is an essential part of how communities make informed decisions and stay connected with each other,” Luu said. “But as the business model of local journalism continues to undergo dramatic transformations, local news organizations must adapt in order to serve their audiences effectively. 

“The Latino Communities Reporting Lab is a great example of how to listen to your audiences, identify an underserved segment, pull together a combination of local and national support, and drive changes to editorial workflows that make news outlets more inclusive,” Luu said. “Knight Foundation is proud to support this initiative and is confident that Liz White's industry leadership will help other local news publishers create and sustain similar projects that benefit communities and journalism itself.”

Engagement

The number of residents who identify as Latino in Meriden grew by 27% from 2010 to 2020 and by 30% statewide, according to the US Census, reflecting similar demographic trends across the nation. In Meriden, the Latino population now represents more than 36.6% of the overall city population.

In addition to the mission of amplifying the voices of local Latino communities, a primary goal of the Lab has been to model listening strategies for other local news publishers in the United States to better inform coverage of underrepresented communities.

The Record-Journal is finalizing its Latino Communities Listening Playbook, which is the culmination of a 12-month in-depth community listening and engagement project funded by the Google News Initiative. The playbook will be shared with the media industry in 2023.

A portion of Knight Foundation’s grant will be used to produce a companion Growth Playbook focused on strategies for building long-term sustainability through a combination of philanthropic funding, sponsorships and advertising as well as building audiences.

For more information about the Latino Communities Reporting Lab visit www.myrecordjournal.com/Latino-Reporting-Lab and the Latino News section https://www.myrecordjournal.com/latino-news. 

About Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation was established by former newspaper publishers John S. and James L. Knight out of a belief “that a well-informed community could best determine its own true interests and was essential to a well-functioning, representative democracy.” 

“We are social investors who support democracy by funding free expression and journalism, arts and culture in community, research in areas of media and democracy, and in the success of American cities and towns where the Knight brothers once had newspapers,” according to Knight Foundation.

Learn more at kf.org and follow @knightfdn on social media.



"The Latino Communities Reporting Lab is a great example of how to listen to your audiences..."

-Duc Luu
"The grant will help us determine with our community what the next phase of the product formats are for the Lab through continued listening..."

-Liz White Notarangelo
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