Jun 062018

Gentilly Messenger Publisher Tyree C. Worthy (center, red shirt) poses with other participants, mentors, and program heads during the LION grant program orientation session in Atlanta, GA, April 2018. (submitted photo)

Gentilly Messenger, the newest member of the NOLA Messenger family of neighborhood-based news sites serving New Orleans, has been selected for inclusion in a national program designed to accelerate growth for new models of local journalism.

The Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers selected Gentilly Messenger and its publisher, Tyree C. Worthy, as one of 10 participants for their Revenue Acceleration Mentorship Program, out of 79 applicants across the U.S.

via lionpublishers.com

Worthy has been paired with a mentor — Eleanor Cippel, a marketing expert based in Tennessee with years of experience in the Scripps and Digital First Media newspaper companies — to help grow revenue at the fledgling Gentilly Messenger news site.

Through the program and other efforts, LION Publishers is leading the critical work of supporting local news entrepreneurs, said Tracie Powell, a member of the LION’s Board of Directors.

“Who best to coach emerging independent news publishers than successful independent news publishers?” Powell said. “We’ve made the mistakes, learned from them, and now we have the chance to share with others and show them how to do it better.”

“The 10 publishers represented — in what we hope to be the first cohort of a continuing program — represent only a small pool of the journalists doing some of the most important work of our time,” Powell continued. “They are strengthening local communities by satisfying critical information needs with quality content, investigative reporting, and solutions-driven journalism. RAMP will focus on the business side of journalism, which supports all of this important work. I am especially proud of the diversity this cohort represents, and we hope to build on this important aspect in subsequent groups.”

Tyree C. Worthy

The program, which began in April, is meant to not only stimulate revenue but also help better develop the independent websites as a whole. LIONs is also providing a grant to help the NOLA Messenger sites with expanding both our reporting and marketing staff, a long-overdue update to our websites, and more convenient business processes.

The program will support Uptown Messenger, Mid-City Messenger and Gentilly Messenger as we continue the news coverage that is unique to our sites, including:

  • In-depth coverage local elections in our neighborhoods, such as last fall’s frequent live video of district-level City Council forums,
  • Watchful observation of developments in our neighborhood’s green spaces, such as Audubon Park, City Park, the Lafitte Greenway and others,
  • Live coverage and video from major local charter school governance organizations, such as the recent CEO searches at New Orleans College Prep and Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans, and the expansion of Audubon Charter School to Gentilly,
  • Lakefront developments and stormwater management in Gentilly,
  • as well as continuing our ongoing commitment to covering crime and public safety, business and local land-use issues and other breaking news in each of our neighborhoods.

The upcoming redesign of our website — through New Orleans-based web development company Westguard Solutions — will not dramatically change the presentation of our sites, but will improve functionality and security against malicious attacks and other hacks that are a growing problem in the online publishing industry.

How You Can Help

The primary purpose of the grant program is to accelerate our revenue growth so that all three sites can continue delivering free quality news coverage to those who care about New Orleans neighborhoods.

This effort, however, will only be successful in the long term with the continued and increased support of our readers. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Buy an ad, if you have run a local business, or suggest that your friends in local businesses do so. This benefits us all: your business not only shows a commitment to accurate, important New Orleans neighborhood news, but also gets their messaging and brand in front of locals and citizens who value the city the same.
  • Likewise, if you see a Facebook ad for a business you support, ask them to consider adding a NOLA Messenger site to their marketing budget. We firmly believe that local businesses are the key to sustaining local news, but major national social-media networks — which are often the most significant purveyors of “fake news” — are a growing threat to our most significant form of revenue.
  • Support our advertisers. The advertisers you see on Uptown Messenger and other sites are the primary reason we have been able to continue reporting the news for nearly eight years now. Please patronize them, thank them for their support of neighborhood-based news, and urge your friends to do so as well.
  • Donate. All our journalism remains free to read and access, but it is costly to produce. One-time and recurring donations, big and small, go directly into paying more for more reporting at each site. Our most ardent supporters often tell us we need to do a better job of asking for help directly from our readers, so expect to see more of those requests from us in the near future.
  • Help spread the word. Subscribe to our daily email and forward it to your friends and neighbors. Make sure that other New Orleanians, both in town and abroad, know where they can find the neighborhood news you depend on.
  • Suggestions. Let us know what you’d like to see more of, what web functions could be better, where we do well and where we can improve across the board.

We will continue to provide updates on our progress in the program over the next few months. As always, thank you for reading and supporting Uptown Messenger.

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