Greetings, friends of The UpTake!
As we begin a New Year, I’d like to take a moment to look back over the past five years since we launched The UpTake. It’s been an amazing ride, and we couldn’t have done it without you, our readers and supporters. You have helped make this non-profit news organization a recognized force in the growth of citizen journalism and in a new way of storytelling that is not beholden to special interests but which is willing to hold government and corporate power accountable.
From covering the protests at the Republican National Convention in 2008 to exposing the forces behind the efforts to restrict voting and marriage rights, to following Occupy protests and the efforts of the poor and disadvantaged to gain power over their own lives, The UpTake has been in the forefront of change. A lot of people probably didn’t think The UpTake would still be here, five years later. But, with your support, we are still here and still carrying out our founding vision of empowering citizens by putting the tools of mobile story-telling in their hands and letting them tell the stories they – and The UpTake – believe need to be told.
After five years, I believe we are just getting started.
It is important work that we are doing. As Glenn Greenwald recently wrote in The Guardian, “The UpTake can serve as a template for how to engage in real journalism across the country using citizens and the power of technology.”
Real journalism that uses cutting edge technology and empowers citizens were our objectives when we started out, and they are still our mission today. People have begun to notice that we are serious about what we do: Last month, the prestigious Freedom of the Press Foundation selected The UpTake as one of the first four alternative media organizations to receive crowd-funding from its supporters in order to keep up our work.Minnesota-based Bush Foundation also gave us a significant grant to support our work and we will be launching a few new initiatives to go along with the work you’ve come to expect from us. Those initiatives will include regular profiles of leaders who – like The UpTake – are working for significant change in their communities. We hope to begin publishing these leadership profiles in February.
Another major program we’re working on is an ambitious media training project. We’ve trained individuals and groups for years, but we are planning on professionalizing and expanding this in big ways. The program is in development right now; we are entering into partnerships with other organizations and we hope to be announcing more about this soon. We plan to offer “community reporting certificates” for communities and individuals who want to learn how to be citizen journalists. We want to help folks learn how to make content that is ready to be published in the manner people are consuming news content. More and more people are consuming news via mobile devices and the social web and we want to help teach news content creators how to make their work ready for those users.
At the same time, our staff has been growing to improve the quality of our reporting and focus our mission. Recently, we brought on long-time newspaper writer and columnist Nick Coleman as our executive editor to oversee our reporting and to develop our training program. Mike McIntee, our executive producer (and one of The UpTake’s original founders) will continue to be our main video anchor and he will start working on some of the business development ideas we’ve long wanted to push hard on. We are looking for a web editor too, so if you know a super smart web techie who wants to jump into some very fun projects please let us know.
We are also continuing testing some customized subscription services. As you can imagine, we collect a great deal of video. Other news organizations, businesses and non-profits are interested in subscribing to data feeds we have and we’re starting to deliver these subscriptions services to help our business model diversify. These types of business to business customized news services might be a big part of our future financial sustainability. These services are in their infancy, but as we can invest in the technology needed we can build in efficiencies and grow this wing of the business. I’d like to thank the Instructional Telecommunications Foundation for their support in the development of these ideas.
There is a great deal of hard work a head of us as we grow in order to better serve your information needs. With your continued support, we will reach our goals to better serve a very smart and increasingly demanding community that looks to The UpTake for information, transparency in government, and powerful storytelling.
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