A crowd of people sit facing a speaker at a podium giving a presentation
Nonprofit news leaders from across the country convened in Minneapolis in May to discuss the state of local news. Photo by Josh Barousse.

I had the privilege last week of traveling to the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul for the American Journalism Project’s annual convening of nonprofit news leaders, AJPalooza.

Now in its fifth year, the American Journalism Project is a venture philanthropy organization that’s become one of the largest funders of local journalism, investing $168 million in its growing portfolio of more than 40 newsrooms. Not only do they financially support mission-driven, sustainable news organizations, but they also provide strategic support to newsrooms with the goal of reimagining local news in communities across the country.

San José Spotlight Executive Director Josh Barousse and Director of Development Thi Tran traveled to Minneapolis to attend AJPalooza, an annual convening of nonprofit news leaders. Photo by Josh Barousse.

After three years in the AJP portfolio, I often feel inspired by the opportunity to be in the room with leaders who have found successful models in rebuilding local news in their communities. With various panel discussions and talks from newsroom founders and CEOs, I hear stories about how they’re creating impact in their markets, along with best practices on strategies to reach growth and scalability. I bring many of those innovative ideas home to Silicon Valley, where we continue to strengthen our nonprofit newsroom San José Spotlight and build the future of local news.

What many might not know is that we are part of a national movement of nonprofit news — the fastest growing sector in journalism — that’s filling a critical gap in communities all over the country, including San Jose and Santa Clara County. Support from the American Journalism Project and other philanthropic partners allows us to do the stories that matter most to you. It allows us to write stories that highlight the plight of marginalized communities, follow the money during elections, expose wrongdoing and corruption, explore solutions to the valley’s biggest problems and pave the way for change.

Working to build a sustainable model for local news is not easy. At AJPalooza, we celebrated some big wins and successes, but we also explored the challenges that come with the day-to-day grind of running a local news organization — from difficulties with funding amid a tough economic climate to building a resilient company culture.

In addition to support from the local community, it takes multi-year commitments from national and local funders to reach sustainability — whether you’re in San Jose or in Minneapolis. The future of local news relies on people seeing the value of this public service and supporting it.

I’m reminded at these conferences that when we’re fully immersed in the day-to-day grind of pursuing stories and raising money, there’s hundreds of other newsrooms out there also doing their part in this growing national movement.

A thriving community cannot function without sustainable local news. Please help us do our part in this movement by making a recurring or one-time gift today.

Contact Josh Barousse at [email protected] or follow @joshbarousse on X,  formerly known as Twitter.

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