Tom McDonald, CNEx, 505-426-4199, firstname.lastname@example.org
Renee Villarreal, New Mexico Community Foundation, 505-820-6860, email@example.com
Marika Lynch, Knight Foundation Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org
SANTA FE, NM —
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and New Mexico Community Foundation are providing a matching grant totaling $45,000 to support and grow the Community News Exchange (CNEx), a news-sharing service in which 14 newspapers statewide are participating.
CNEx was launched in May by Tom McDonald, a career newspaper journalist who now owns and manages Gazette Media Services LLC of Las Vegas, NM
“I started this news exchange with an eye on small town, locally owned newspapers, figuring they could use some relevant content that doesn’t short change their readers,” McDonald said. “This is content that gives you a peek into what’s going on in the smaller communities of New Mexico, news that’s often off the beaten path.”
“By partnering with New Mexico Community Foundation and the Knight Foundation, we’ve got an opportunity to grow CNEx into a permanent service,” McDonald said.
Ten of the 14 newspapers now participating are weeklies in small towns and villages across New Mexico.
Each week, McDonald collects content from the participating newspapers, selects and edits stories of a broader interest into a set of news briefs and some “stand-alone” stories, then transmits the content to all the participating newspapers. He also distributes his weekly column, Dispatch New Mexico, which focuses on issues that are important to rural New Mexico.
According to an agreement between Gazette Media and NMCF, McDonald will continue the weekly transmissions, work to increase the number of newspapers in the exchange, cover rural and small town issues in the upcoming legislative session, and develop CNEx into a self-sustaining long-term service.
The grant from the Knight Foundation is part of its Knight Community Information Challenge, which engages community and place-based foundations in supporting news and information projects.
New Mexico Community Foundation, based in Santa Fe, is a statewide grant-making and programmatic community foundation established in 1983. NMCF supports community projects and underserved communities by pooling resources to support New Mexico’s people, to strengthen the state’s nonprofits, and to grow philanthropy and endowments, especially in rural parts of the state.
“NMCF is excited about this partnership as it supports one of our goals of helping to bring resources to rural New Mexico. We were especially interested in the news-sharing aspect of this project as there are more and more small-town independent newspapers that are struggling,” said Renee Villarreal, Director of Programs and Community Outreach for New Mexico Community Foundation. “But the ones that are surviving have some information to share that is pertinent to other rural communities around New Mexico.”
“We also feel it is important to connect rural isolated communities to news sources, as some do not have the reliable infrastructure to depend on Internet sources,” she said.
New Mexico newspapers currently participating in the Community News Exchange include: Cibola Beacon, Clovis Livestock Market News, De Baca County News, Hidalgo County Herald, The Independent in Edgewood, Lincoln County News, Lovington Leader, Navajo Times, Rio Grande Sun in Española, Roswell Daily Record, Ruidoso Free Press, Silver City Daily Press, Union County Leader and The Taos News.