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The Center for Community Media’s Border Network Convenes

On August 11, CCM Graduate School of Journalism’s Border Network, convened for the first time, bringing a dozen community media outlets along the southern U.S. border together to discuss challenges they face in serving their audiences; consider opportunities for collaboration; and connect with legal, training, and funding resources.

Outlets serving rural communities in Texas, migrants living in shelters in the Sonoran desert region, cross-border commercial networks between California and Baja California, and teeming border cities found they shared a number of challenges: cybersecurity concerns; staffing and reporting big stories with small newsrooms; and the shortage of resources to translate or fact-check big stories in Spanish.

Their audiences also face unique barriers. Some border communities have limited Spanish-language news sources and limited access to the internet – or even to broadcast technology. The so-called mainstream news coverage of migrants is rarely directed at or relevant to the migrant communities bearing the brunt of hostile immigration policies or COVID-19. Outlets on the border are working to build trust with their audiences, to make high-stakes stories like the census or election personally relevant, to combat pervasive disinformation and misinformation, and to help their audiences access and exercise their voting rights.

To stay afloat and grow during the economic crisis that has followed COVID-19, and better serve the communities that need them, these outlets are innovating by:

  • collaborating to expand newsroom capability and cover bigger stories across a state or region;
  • investing in digital capabilities;
  • launching podcasts; and
  • developing new revenue streams.

Representatives from the Free Expression Legal Network, the New Mexico Local News FundSolutions Journalism and Hearken’s Election SOS joined this first convening of the Border Network. Network members plan to meet regularly to develop joint initiatives, and to share resources and ideas. To learn more about the Border Network or join in future gatherings, email ccm@journalism.cuny.edu

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