Ohio Local News Initiative
New non-profit newsroom serving Cleveland
The Ohio Local News Initiative is a yet-to-be named startup nonprofit organization that has raised more than $6.1 million so far for a vision to give everyone in Ohio the local news they need, starting with a robust newsroom in Cleveland. The Cleveland newsroom will produce high-quality accountability journalism while working directly with residents to produce and distribute community reporting, employing an innovative model for local journalism that is directly responsive to local information needs. In addition to a team of editors and beat reporters, the Cleveland newsroom will have best-in-class community engagement expertise, multimedia production, dedicated capacity for service journalism and research, and Cleveland Documenters, a project that trains and pays Greater Clevelanders to document local public meetings.
Our values and key practices
We value diverse perspectives, believe everyone has talents and skills, and use power-sharing community building practices to create a learning environment that values all voices. We are creating a future that democratizes journalism and our primary work is building trust with the community as we strive to produce journalism side by side with the community.
Move at the pace of community. We are accountable to community questions and interest and not to arbitrary deadlines.
Flip the traditional news/civic information dynamic. Instead of civic information as a residual of news, we start with providing civic information and tools. Reporting flows from gathering and distributing that information.
Hold and nurture accessible, informal spaces where everyone has a voice, power is shared, and people are able to step into civic life in a way that feels safe, fun, and productive.
Are a learning community, with space and easy on-ramps for every one of us to learn from each other, to grow, and build power while also providing and connecting people with opportunities to go deeper.
As a startup building a newsroom from scratch, the Ohio Local News Initiative has the opportunity to draw from the best in the industry, discard the bad, and create new, innovative ways to center community information needs while producing excellent, impactful journalism. The service journalism reporter will lead in the creation of guides, explainers, and other service journalism that translates reporting from the newsroom about government, education, criminal justice, economics, and more, into content that helps people better understand the context and the effects of the news, and to take action. They will be building for Greater Cleveland a library of verified, useful information, in user-friendly formats, that helps people navigate systems, and advocate for themselves, their families, or their communities.
The Service Journalism Reporter will work with reporters and editors across the newsroom to identify service angles for their stories, produce a steady stream of service content, and create and manage systems to keep service content up-to-date. Their work will help make the newsroom Cleveland’s go-to source for how to do things in Cleveland. They will be part of a team led by the Managing Editor, Community, that includes a community reporter, Cleveland Documenters and multimedia and audio producers. The team’s overall goal will be to bring the voices of Cleveland communities into the newsroom, to advocate for residents’ information needs, and making news and information accessible to a variety of audiences.
Develop a library of service content across a broad range of topics that address questions from Greater Cleveland residents including navigating systems, dealing with basic needs, and other things that come up in daily life
Work collaboratively with reporters, editors, community representatives, and documenters across the newsroom to identify service angles, and produce content that helps people take action on stories
Test processes out, verify how things work, and document them for others; develop a system for going back to archived service content and ensuring it’s up-to-date
Keep your finger on the pulse of what residents are interested in knowing about navigating life in Cleveland, and take the lead in ensuring the newsroom is responsive to their interests
Be an advocate for accessibility and relevance in the newsroom—help editors and reporters see opportunities to make their content easier to understand for all of the newsroom’s audiences
Work with editors to develop a list of service formats (lists, guides, charts, etc.) that can be easily understood and communicated—for reporters, formats should make it easier to help create service content; for audiences, the formats should be easy to search and understand
Consider applying if:
You are someone people often turn to for advice on how to get things done, or knowledge about life in Cleveland; you get energy from helping people solve problems
You feel an urgency to be responsive to community information needs
You’re good at spotting opportunities for action and solutions in stories
You’re a fountain of ideas in the newsroom and you’re a prolific writer
You enjoy writing from the perspective of your readers, and you’re good at content formats that are easily digestible for people, such as lists, step-by-step instructions, diagrams, and anything else that will serve your audience
You thrive on working collaboratively with others. You can interact effectively with a diverse group of individuals internal and external to the newsroom
You have a demonstrated commitment to local, public service journalism
You have a strong understanding and knowledge of Cleveland neighborhoods and communities and respect for the knowledge community members can bring to the newsroom
You have a strong understanding of Ohio’s open records law and how to use it to dislodge records the community might not otherwise see
You have 2+ years reporting experience in local newsrooms
You have stellar news judgment and editorial skills
You have strong communication and writing skills
You’re experienced in telling stories on multiple platforms using audio, social media and/or video
You’re able to work under deadline and prioritize work
You have a flexible and entrepreneurial spirit—you can thrive in a startup environment where you are expected to learn as you go and think outside the box
You’re able to work evenings as needed
You have strong interpersonal/communications skills—you’re willing to negotiate and talk through issues in an honest and clear manner
You’re able to maintain confidence when working with sensitive information
You practice a growth mindset, and have the ability to see opportunity even in the midst of challenges
Compensation and benefits
Salary minimum: $55K
We’re committed to building an inclusive organization that represents the people and communities we serve. We encourage members of traditionally underrepresented communities to apply, including women, people of color, veterans, LGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities.
About our hiring process
We have adopted these guiding principles for equitable hiring and do our best to follow best practices to create an inclusive hiring process.
If you apply for a position in our newsroom, someone will review your application within two weeks of submission and may request a phone conversation while the application window is still open. After the initial application window closes, there are five steps in the hiring process you may advance through, which are designed to provide opportunities for you to shine. It includes:
A video interview to get to know more about your past experience and interest in the role;
In-person interviews with your hiring manager and others in the newsroom
A written exercise that will give you a better idea of what the role entails, and help us understand how you’d approach it (we offer optional office hours to help you complete the exercise as successfully as possible, and help you prepare for the next step in the process)
A panel interview with representatives from our newsroom leadership team;
A panel interview with Cleveland Documenters and Greater Cleveland residents.
Our guiding principles
People are our greatest asset as an organization. Hiring and retaining people are also two of the hardest things to get right in any startup.
We try in every way to create a diverse, equitable, inclusive workplace, which requires a hiring process that reflects this value; hiring of employees who believe in and live into it; and developing and maintaining a work culture that makes all people feel safe, welcome, and able to thrive.
We are endeavoring to achieve an ambitious vision of community-centered journalism —one for which there is no tried and true blueprint. We have an unprecedented opportunity to do it thanks to the support of seed funders, and to reach sustainability we are committed to demonstrating impact quickly. Startup work is tough. We aim to be as transparent as possible with all candidates about the work so they have an opportunity to decline if they don’t think it will be a fit.
We will do everything we can to evaluate candidates on their ability to succeed in the roles we’re trying to fill, not on proxies (such as education) or attributes that are assumed to be associated with capability. This may translate to a more rigorous interviewing process than other organizations, and extra time set aside to help each individual candidate bring their best selves to the process (that’s why we offer optional office hours for interview prep).
While skills and capabilities are important, values and cultural fits are just as important—both for the sake of the organization and for the candidates. Values and an ability to get along with others are included in hiring criteria. Hiring bad cultural fits can be demoralizing to entire teams, make it hard to work, and cause people to leave.
To make up for structural inequities, we recruit until we have a minimum of 50% of competitive candidates at every stage of the hiring process who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color.
We are constantly learning and improving; our hiring processes also evolve as best practices are tested and established.
To apply for this job please visit www.localnewsforohio.org.