The Local partners with WHYY and an exciting roster of community content creators
One of the first things we did when we started our newspaper in 2014, was google every local news outlet we could find and reach out personally. We couldn’t wait to introduce ourselves and see how we might benefit each other.
To us, community news was about relationships. There’s no point in guarding sources and trying to “scoop” other papers – stories all break online these days anyway. Competition? Not when there’s just a handful of independent outlets hanging on in a wheezing industry. By working together, though, we could instantly tap into fresh talent and audiences. Right? Well…
Let’s just say journalists can be super territorial. And publishing — even on the super local level — can be a very commercial (and political) enterprise. But then George Floyd was murdered, and as Americans began calling out systemic racism where they saw it, news outlets like WHYY looked inward, to figure out what role they might be playing in reinforcing biases and discrimination. An independent audit of their coverage revealed a clear preference for white, male voices. WHYY had some work to do, if they were going to live up to their mission to hear and share stories from all neighbors.
Enter N.I.C.E. – the News and Information Community Exchange – an innovative step WHYY is taking toward more diverse and inclusive reporting. N.I.C.E. is a mutual-aid journalism collaborative of grassroots press (writers, broadcasters, and publishers), so far about a dozen content creators from all corners of Philadelphia.
Rather than head the project with a journalist or academic, WHYY chose community organizer Eric Marsh because N.I.C.E. is about building connections, communication, and trust. Participants meet for a weekly ZOOM call to basically share what we’re up to, and then Eric suggests ways to work together and/or tap into WHYY’s resources. Finally, support and recognition for us “little guys” of independent news. Thank you Knight Foundation and Lenfest!
And thank you to all the N.I.C.E. partners, in particular James Williams, our advocate from the Uptown Standard – a spunky local newspaper we’ve admired since their first edition in January 2020. We connected last summer, sharing tips and content; lots of brainstorming and strategizing. When the Uptown Standard was invited to be a founding member of N.I.C.E., James tagged us in as soon as possible. We could not be more grateful! We are also very excited to put our collaborative news ideals into action, with a solid (and humbling) pool of talent, including Sajda Purple Blackwell in the video above.
Add our own Lenora Gaillard, Local office volunteer and self-proclaimed busybody, who will be our first N.I.C.E. correspondent. As a Germantown senior with deep local ties, Lenora knows a whole network of residents, leaders, friends, family, colleagues, a vast array of viewpoints and experiences rarely featured in mainstream media.
Lenora’s also funny, frank, and practically unflappable – we predict great things as she grows into this new vocation. “I’m excited to help out!” she said, “I think I’ll really enjoy going around where all the people are and seeing what everyone’s doing.” Look for Lenora and her roving recorder at local events, meetings, gatherings and happenings.
If you’ve got a story idea for Lenora or would like her to cover your event, please email Lenora@nwlocalpaper.com or call 267-703-2343 to reach the Local News Desk.
N.I.C.E. organizes, supports and develops grassroots news and information content creators who serve their communities and who, in turn share content, sources, wisdom and audiences with WHYY and each other. Partners include:
Lenora E. Harold-Gaillard was born, reared and educated in Philadelphia PA. She’s a 1965 graduate of Overbrook High School, retired after 40+ years as a Radiology tech and ready to embark on a new career in neighborhood news. A self-described “busybody,” Lenora has also been a lifelong community volunteer and supporter with many decades of service with various organizations. As a co-victim of homicide, Lenora founded “The Venting All Grief” Comfort Ministry in memory of her son Vaughn Anthony who was killed in 1995.
In addition to Vaughn, Lenora has two daughters, “Missie” and Monique, and one grandchild, Garland Rhodes, III. Lenora believes in treating people the way she would want to be treated. She’s looking forward to being a positive voice out and about with the people she loves.
“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
— Stephen Grellet (Quaker Missionary (1772 – 1855)