MANSFIELD – The city of Mansfield is the place to be. We know that, and many here know that. Turns out, the Solutions Journalism Network knows it, too.
On Oct. 18 and 19, the Solutions Journalism Network will host a two-day summit with editors, publishers, and funders of local journalism from around the country to catalyze revenue-building experiments using solutions journalism. All the action will be happening right here at Richland Source in the Idea Works building, 40 W. Fourth St.
Why Mansfield, you might ask? The team at SJN advocated fiercely to host this important summit smack in the middle of the Midwest.
"Yes, it’s an hour from major airports in Cleveland, Columbus, and Akron," said Delaney Butler, program coordinator at SJN. "But did you know that’s the same amount of time it takes to drive from JFK to Manhattan in heavy traffic — and a much prettier ride?
"We guarantee it’ll be worth it to see this small newsroom in action, and meet the local citizens who decided it’s worth it to open their pockets to support great solutions journalism, generating almost $70K in newsroom revenue from a conservative Midwestern rust belt town still struggling with economic challenges."
You read that correctly: the Solutions Journalism Network is hosting a national summit here at Richland Source because of you, dear reader, and the support you've shown us over the years.
The Solutions Journalism Network is an independent, non-profit organization that advocates an approach of solutions journalism, an evidence-based model of reporting on the responses to social problems. We've partnered with the SJN on a number of projects since 2016 and have adopted a solutions approach in our newsroom ever since.
The goal of the summit is for journalists to brainstorm ways to leverage solutions journalism reporting as a source of revenue. It will include an extensive Q-and-A and one-on-one time, detailed brainstorming sessions with peers, and opportunities to hone strategies for revenue-building and emerge with new ideas.
It's no secret that this kind of creative thinking around revenue is needed in the world of journalism. According to a report from The University of North Carolina, 1,800 newspapers have closed since 2004, or 1 in every 5 across the country. At Richland Source, we've had to be innovative and think differently -- our efforts were profiled recently in a cover story for the Christian Science Monitor.
Attendees at next week's summit will hear from Sharon Chan, vice president of philanthropy at The New York Times and former vice president of innovation, product and development at the Seattle Times, and Jill Jorden Spitz, editor of the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, Arizona.
They'll also be hearing from Richland Source publisher Jay Allred, as he highlights our members and newsroom partners for their involvement and support of our solutions journalism efforts.
The summit will unofficially kick off on Thursday night with, in Butler's words, "a unique local event produced by the small-but-mighty Richland Source staff, at an old-time movie palace in town." We're inviting all the visiting journalists to attend the Mansfield Mayoral Debate.
The city's mayoral candidates -- Republican Tim Theaker and Democrat Don Bryant -- will participate in a "live CEO job interview" on the stage of The Renaissance Theatre on Thursday, Oct. 17, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. We've invited the summit attendees to sit in the Ren's balcony and see our community in action.
If you'd like to be there, too, general admission tickets are free and can be easily reserved at the Renaissance Theatre's website. VIP tickets are preferred seating nearest to the stage and are available for $20 each. All proceeds from VIP ticket sales will be donated to the Mansfield Rising project at the Richland County Foundation.