We have strong and positive news to share with you today.

Growing Community Media, publisher of the Forest Park Review, has just received a grant from the Field Foundation to hire a full-time community narrative reporter for our Austin Weekly News. As envisioned by Michael Romain, editor of the Austin Weekly and GCM’s Equity Editor, the new reporter will document the “steady state” of Austin, West Garfield and North Lawndale.

“This reporter,” Romain wrote, “will help our publication uncover and map the strong networks of people and organizations that create a sense of place on the West Side — from block clubs, Neighborhood Watch groups, Local School Councils and churches to the wizened people on the porch, the sidewalk sages, and the amateur local historians.”

The public narrative focus aligns our expanded reporting with the Quality-of-Life plan developed two years ago by Austin Coming Together. That document reflects a foundational need for West Siders to see their stories genuinely told in local media. 

That is our determined intention.

Reflecting the history of the Austin Weekly we have named this new position the Delores McCain and Terry Dean Community Narrative Reporter. Delores McCain was a  West Side activist with roots in the Civil Rights Movement. She became a contributing reporter to the Weekly in 2000 and was, in truth, the face of the paper through her weekly Street Beat column. She died in 2010. Terry Dean, who died last month at just 47, was editor of the Weekly from 2005 to 2015. A lifelong Austin resident, Terry was well-respected for his fair and empathetic coverage of the West Side.

We are launching our job search now and urge you to spread the word. 

We are grateful to the Field Foundation for the $50,000 grant and to Lolly Bowean, the foundation’s media and storytelling program officer, for guiding us through this process as a still new nonprofit.

We have other grant applications in process. Each one is focused on growing our newsroom so that we can tell more stories and tell them better.

As we move toward the end of the year, we are also deep into planning for our now annual NewsMatch fundraising drive. It is our largest membership drive of the year and we will be asking for your key support to sustain our independent newsroom. If you are not already a member of our independent newsroom, please consider joining us. 

This is a big win for Growing Community Media. We are growing on the generous shoulders of our members.

With gratitude,

Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

Growing Community Media