Q. How is this effort different than newspapers’ typical approach to nonprofits?

A. Traditionally, we’ve covered the work of nonprofits because we cover the news of the community. And we’ve supported individual charities, including the popular annual “Warm the Children” campaigns at The Register Citizen in Torrington and The Middletown Press, and the Fresh Air Fund at the New Haven Register.

Three things that are different about the ConnecticutNewspapers.Org effort:

– We’re leveraging what we’re good at to support charity. That means a commitment of staff time to help charities figure out things like blogging and social media, and resources, including advertising space at reduced cost.

– We’re tearing down walls and becoming more transparent – partnering with our audience at every step of the process of local journalism. We want to knock down the traditional barriers to understanding and navigating requests for news coverage about an issue important to your organization. And our community engagement editor positions can serve as a kind of concierge for nonprofits in dealing with the newsroom.

– Our philosophy of news coverage is shifting from one of disassociated recounting of a community’s problems to one that seeks to help the community see its problems but also help the community find solutions.

Q. What types of organizations qualify for this program?

A. It’s not about the corporate status of an organization, especially in a networked world where groups from two people to 20,000 can organize around an idea, without even meeting in person. We are open to working with formally incorporated nonprofit organizations, service clubs, churches, schools, neighborhood associations, etc.

Q. Does my organization have to formally apply in any way in order to participate?

A. No. Just pick up the phone and let us know how we can help you or how we can work together. And there’s no requirement to be involved in “the whole program,” either. If you just need help understanding why a calendar item hasn’t been published, let us know. No other obligation.

Q. You said you’re partnering with nonprofits. So why won’t the newspaper send a reporter to write the story I pitched?

A. We still have limited resources and have to prioritize news coverage decisions every day. And we still have limited space in print and on our homepages. This program aims to provide more transparency about why, sometimes, we can’t cover that story, but more importantly, help in how you can tell that story yourself.

Q. Will this effort compromise newspapers’ ability or willingness to report critically on nonprofits?

A. Keeping nonprofits honest is a crucial part of the mission of helping nonprofit and charitable causes. Be assured that we’ll continue to do that in our reporting, more than ever.

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