The Puffin Spotlight: Issue 15

March 1, 2024

Online Journalism and E-media  

Over the years, The Puffin Spotlight has served as a means of reflection, highlighting the work and achievements of Puffin Foundation grantees. In this issue, we’re taking a closer look at impactful online journalism and e-media projects which have shed light on the most important topics of the day through compelling investigative reporting and analyses. Although some of these projects have actual print editions, all the featured grantees have expanded their reach to a wider audience by cultivating a robust online presence.

The Barn Raiser is a new national magazine which publishes independent news, analysis, and information to support diverse and civically engaged small town communities. The Barn Raiser is a new publication created by Joel Bleifuss, the accomplished former Publisher & Editor of In These Times. The Barn Raiser’s website features original articles on politics, history, culture, religion, agriculture, and Native American people of rural America. 

The OptOut Media Foundation is a nonprofit news and tech organization dedicated to advancing social justice through the amplification of U.S. based financially independent journalism. OptOut  curates and distributes content from over 200 news outlets, all of which are members of the OptOut network. OptOut promotes its content through a smartphone app called OptOut News, which has been downloaded over 15,000 times, as well as through a suite of newsletters, which reach about 6,000 subscribers.

Democracy Now! is an independent and progressive news organization whose mission is to provide a platform for voices that have been underrepresented or marginalized by mainstream media. Through the Democracy Now! website, anyone can read or tune in to reporting that includes breaking news headlines as well as interviews with people on the front lines of the most pressing global issues. Founded in 1996 by Journalists Amy Goodman and Juan González, the show originally aired on nine stations. Today, Democracy Now! Is broadcast daily in the United States and Canada as well as around the world and reaches millions of people every day.

Type Media Center is a nonprofit media organization which promotes independent journalism and social justice. Type Investigations, its investigative reporting unit, produces journalism that addresses systemic issues and stories which may be overlooked by mainstream media. The Type Media Center website features a diverse selection of articles and reports which reach a global audience on a daily basis, fostering awareness and understanding of critical talking points. 

The Nation Magazine, founded in 1865, stands as one of the most enduring voices in American progressive journalism. Throughout its history, The Nation has provided a platform for analysis and investigative reporting from diverse voices. The print and online magazine has tackled issues such as civil rights, social justice, international affairs, and environmental sustainability. The Nation’s commitment to producing online content expands its reach to a readership who may not have access to its print counterpart. 

StudentNation, a project of The Nation Fund, aims to encourage, promote, and expand the impact of a rising generation of student journalists. In the program, students receive mentorship from Nation staff and have the opportunity to network with fellow journalists. Each year, StudentNation publishes more than 100 pieces of original content which can be read here

The Urban Activist, an online publication, centers its reporting on urban affairs, specifically focusing on city-based, solution-driven actions that create human progress. The publication investigates local initiatives and highlights the people behind them, and is delivered by a network of non-journalist activists, artists, researchers, farmers, and more, which adds multidisciplinary perspectives to the stories. The Urban Activist believes local innovation is the key to finding the solution to the world’s most pressing issues. 

Making Contact is an award winning radio show and podcast which features narrative storytelling and thought-provoking interviews. Making Contact is distributed to non-commercial radio stations and can be listened to online for free. Making Contact is committed to in-depth critical analysis of political and social issues, often showcasing voices and perspectives rarely heard in corporate media.

Puffin Cultural Forum

Indie Lens Pop-Up: Breaking the News

Image: Editor at Large Errin Haines interviewing Kamala Credit: Sosena Solomon

This month, The Puffin Cultural Forum, in collaboration with TIFF, PBS, and Indie Lens Pop-Up presents Breaking The News, a documentary about a group of fearless women and LGBTQ+ journalists who join together to fight the status quo, and launch The 19th*, a digital news startup aiming to combat misinformation. 

Indie Lens Pop Up is a neighborhood series that brings people together for film screenings and community driven conversations. The series draws local residents, as well as organizations and leaders to discuss the most relevant issues, ranging from social problems to family and community relationships. 

Breaking the News will be paired with the NJ-PBS 21 series short documentary, Warren County.  Laura Zhang Choi, school board member and advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion, tells her story of embodying the change she wants to see: inclusive communities that embrace diversity, where everyone’s story is valued. 

The films will be followed immediately by our talkback with co-director/producer of Breaking the News, Princess A. Hairston and 21’s Warren County, Laura Zhang Choi, moderated by Kate Sosin of The 19th*.

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