News co-op poised to begin sending stories
Photo: NDNC enterprise journalist Michael Standaert writes news stories for North Dakota newspapers.
By Jill Denning Gackle
Patience is a challenging virtue. Plus it’s hard to be keep motivated toward a goal, all while being patient.
But that’s what the North Dakota News Cooperative board did as we are now poised to launch our first stories under the leadership of Enterprise Journalist Michael Standaert.
Michael was hired July 15 to start sending North Dakota newspapers deep-dive stories on subjects that news staffs around the state don’t have the manpower or time to cover. From the onset, when an NDNA committee formed several years ago, we knew that we wanted to help newspapers boost their products with stories that couldn’t be found elsewhere. We linked news readership to civic engagement, volunteerism and strong communities.
Two years ago we started to form the idea for a reporting service that would go arm-in-arm with an effort to engage the public in reading newspapers. We liked the legislative intern program and wanted to pattern the reporting effort after that.
After a lot of work, many conversations and a search that took us all the way to China, we are now ready to send newspapers stories that readers can dig their teeth into. Standaert, who was working for Bloomberg News in China, is an Illinois boy who wanted to bring his family of four to the Midwest.
The first stories will come your way in August. Standaert already has a list of about 40 ideas, and he is weighing in with the board regularly to gain new sources, insight and direction.
Soon he’ll have a content editor or two to look over his stories before they make their way to the newspapers. We’re going to post the stories on our website, but you’ll be receiving them via email. (NDNA will assist Standaert in getting the stories to the right email; let him or NDNA know if you’re not getting the first batch.)
Hiring Standaert was the first big step but we had a lot of details to nail down. And more to come. The stories will be sent by the weekend for Tuesday release. Some weeks there will be a story, some weeks you’ll just get a heads up of what is to come.
Standaert will tease the stories on social media, but it’s up to you to publish and promote what you can.
We had hoped to launch in January but we were determined to do this right. We think we have so far. You’ll be the judge of that. We want your feedback, story ideas and guidance as we move forward.
Soon we’ll talk to the North Dakota Broadcasters Association and Prairie Public Broadcasting to see how our efforts may fit together. There are plans for a regular podcast with Standaert and others to share what steps interviewing and stories go through to get to the readers.
In the meantime, we’re working with the Department of Public Instruction on the standards all public school educators follow in the areas of library science and language arts. DPI regularly reviews its standards and it just happened that those two areas – both that include news literacy – were up for consideration. We’re at the table adding what we can to the process.
Plus we’ve been speaking about NDNC and the reporting efforts whenever we can. Whether it’s the Badass Grandmas organization or a group of professional communicators, we’re sharing your story.
We’re also working on grants and donations. The website allows for donations, but we’ll be reapplying for grants that brought us this far. We have enough funds right now to keep a lean budget for three years, but we want to add another reporter in time and expand our efforts. Fundraising will become a higher priority in the coming months.
But we’ll be patient. Thanks for your patience with us, too.