to conserve and strengthen community news in Middle and South Georgia
DEC 16 | 2023
National Trust for Local News subsidiary will sustain community newspapers in Georgia with support from Knight, Woodruff, and Casey foundations
The non-profit National Trust for Local News is establishing the Georgia Trust for Local News, a new community newspaper company that will serve Middle and South Georgia. Anchored by support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, and the Marguerite Casey Foundation, the Georgia Trust for Local News is dedicated to providing and strengthening impartial, timely and relevant community news. The Georgia Trust will begin operations in January with a portfolio of 18 newspapers that serve 900,000 Georgians in communities across Middle and South Georgia and an initiative to stand up a new community news source in Macon. Georgia Trust titles will include iconic publications with deep roots in the communities they serve, like The Albany Herald, Dublin’s Courier Herald, The Sparta Ishmaelite and The Talbotton New Era.
“We are protecting and expanding the work that these wonderful newspapers already do for nearly one million Georgians in the heart of our state,” says DuBose Porter, the longtime publisher of the Dublin Courier-Herald Group who will serve as the Georgia Trust’s executive director and whose newspapers will become the backbone of the Georgia Trust. “Each of our newspapers serves a different community in a distinct way and all will have greater resources and stronger infrastructure to provide first-rate community journalism.”
The Georgia Trust will be led by a diverse group with deep roots in Georgia. Alongside Executive Director DuBose Porter, Caleb Slinkard will serve as Executive Editor. Slinkard was most recently Georgia Editor at McClatchy, where he led the newsrooms of The Macon Telegraph and The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Longtime Georgia newspaper executive Pam Burney will serve as General Manager.
“Community journalism is about strengthening our connections to each other and our understanding of the world around us,” says Caleb Slinkard, executive editor of the Georgia Trust for Local News. “It's how folks keep tabs on local governments and school boards, follow high school sports and learn what's going on in their neighborhoods.”
The Georgia Trust for Local News is using philanthropic funding to launch its work, and subscribers, advertisers, and community members will continue to sustain it.
“With this grant, Knight Foundation furthers two of our deepest commitments: to strengthening the Macon community, and to supporting local news,” said Jim Brady, vice president of journalism for Knight Foundation. “We are honored to be a founding funder of the National Trust for Local News and to contribute to the growth of sustainable and independent news in Georgia.”
“Local news only works when it’s created and sustained by local people,” says Lisa Borders, a member of the National Trust for Local News board of directors and former president of the Grady Health and Coca-Cola Foundations. “From supporters like the Woodruff, Casey, and Knight foundations, to the journalists and staff at these iconic papers, and to leaders like DuBose, Caleb and Pam, the Georgia Trust for Local News has deep roots in Georgia. We are grateful for this opportunity to serve our state.”
“Strong, sustainable and non-partisan local news is essential to healthy communities,” says Woodruff Foundation President Russ Hardin. “We are pleased to support an effort that promises to sustain and strengthen local newspapers in Georgia.”
“The dismantling of local news disparately impacts marginalized communities," said Marguerite Casey Foundation President and CEO Dr. Carmen Rojas. “We look forward to supporting the Georgia Trust as it uplifts the issues impacting Georgians and builds stronger community newspapers.”
In addition to investing in its inaugural portfolio of newspapers, the Georgia Trust will launch a local news source in Macon, Georgia in 2024. Anchored by support from the Knight Foundation, this effort will leverage a partnership with Mercer University’s Reg Murphy Center for Collaborative Journalism.
According to research published by Northwestern University earlier this month, an estimated 45 million Americans are at risk of losing their local newspaper. More than half of them live in the southeastern United States. Of Georgia’s 159 counties, 21 do not have a local news source, while 116 counties only have one.
“When local newspapers disappear, communities fracture and mistrust thrives,” says Elizabeth Hansen Shapiro, CEO and co-founder of the National Trust for Local News. “The National Trust for Local News protects community newspapers because they build more connected communities, support local economies, and strengthen our democracy. The Georgia Trust for Local News will light a sustainable path forward for community newspapers across the state.”
About the Georgia Trust for Local News
The Georgia Trust for Local News (GTLN) is dedicated to strengthening community newspapers across Georgia, fostering local engagement and building stronger, more connected communities. The Georgia Trust for Local News is a subsidiary of the National Trust for Local News (NTLN), a non-profit committed to conserving, transforming and sustaining vibrant, sustainable community news enterprises across the country.
GTLN’s newspapers are: The Courier Herald (Dublin, Laurens County); The Albany Herald (Albany, Dougherty County); The Johnson Journal (Wrightsville, Johnson County); The Soperton News (Soperton, Treutlen County); The Montgomery Monitor (Mt. Vernon, Montgomery County); The Wheeler County Eagle (Alamo, Wheeler County); The Wilkinson County Post (Irwinton, Wilkinson County); The Twiggs Times New Era (Jeffersonville, Twiggs County); The Cochran Journal (Cochran, Bleckley County); The Sandersville Progress (Sandersville, Washington County); The Houston Home Journal (Perry, Houston County); The Leader Tribune (Fort Valley, Peach County); The Sparta Ishmaelite (Sparta, Hancock County); The News Observer (Vienna, Dooly County); The Citizen Georgian (Montezuma, Macon County); The Star-Mercury Vindicator (Manchester, Meriwether County); The Harris County Journal (Hamilton, Harris County); The Talbotton New Era (Talbotton, Talbot County).
About the National Trust for Local News
The National Trust for Local News (NTLN) owns and operates sustainable news enterprises that are deeply embedded in the communities they serve. The National Trust combines scaled national business operations with deep local partnerships, ensuring that the news outlets we own are intimately connected with the communities they serve. NTLN believes in the power of local news to foster community engagement, enhance understanding, and strengthen the connections between people and the places they live.
Community newspapers elevate the quality of life in communities while boosting local economies. The National Trust and its subsidiaries have conserved and operate 64 community news outlets in three states, serving 5.8 million Americans and employing more than 500 people, including nearly 250 local journalists. The local news produced by National Trust-owned outlets was viewed nearly ten million times in just the last 30 days.
Visit ntln.org to learn more about our work.