If you live in a rural environment, you are no doubt all too familiar with the state of rural news. Local newspapers are either dead or dying, syndications of major dailies with news that matters not to rural folk, or so poorly written that it’s hard to justify the cost of your time to read it. 

As local journalism in general fades, rural areas take the hit all the more. Gratefully, there are new philanthropic efforts to support journalism in rural areas bringing news and stories that actually matter to and impact the rural populace. 

Grist, the nonprofit climate media organization, and the Center for Rural Strategies have recently announced the launch of the Rural Newswire. “This new website will provide a platform to support the issues, news stories, and communities of the rural United States. The Rural Newswire will allow editors to source stories to syndicate, free of charge, and to upload links to their own coverage. Grist and the Center for Rural Strategies were able to apply grant money to launch the Rural Newswire, which will serve as a vital resource to address the decline in rural coverage.”

When I first heard the news, I admit I met it with skepticism. But upon reviewing the articles available for republication, I was pleased to find, for example, an article titled: Conserving Public Forests Pairs Well with Sustainable Timber Economy. This is a topic I often discuss with my neighbors and local business owners in the timber industry in relation to an unmanaged chunk of public ground not a half mile from my home. 

“As part of this project, the Rural Newswire will provide $100,000 in grants to report on rural America. The grants are open to both newsrooms and freelancers. Interested newsrooms and freelancers may apply using an online form until June 1, 2023. Applicants can request up to $5,000 per project for freelancers and up to $10,000 per project for newsrooms. Decisions will be sent by July 1, 2023, with reporting finished by December 31, 2023.”

This project will not solve the problem of rural news and journalism alone. We need community buy-in and, importantly, buy-in from local philanthropists and community foundations. Nonetheless, it is surely a step in the right direction to support rural communities and their efforts to produce news that matters to their communities.