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Public Educational Media
Date Approved

WJCT, the local public media organization serving the Jacksonville, Florida, region, seeks support for Phase I of its project to create a viable and sustainable digital local journalism service. Current national and regional trends point to a continuing deterioration of the local news ecosystem, highlighted by the decline in reporting and editing resources at The Florida Times-Union. Loss of local news coverage has been shown to erode civic engagement and government performance. As the established commercial business models that support local journalism wither, new non-profit services are showing promising signs of sustainability. WJCT has studied these developments carefully, and is transitioning from a traditional public broadcaster of TV and radio to an organization with local journalism at its heart, using the digital media that people are increasingly using to find news and information.  This transformation has already begun, and this Phase I proposal outlines the next crucial steps —  improving both our digital-first journalism and our business-side skills —  before WJCT can launch and sustain an ambitious new digital local news service, helping to address the decline of the local news ecosystem and the negative civic consequences that go along with it.