Independent, Citizen-Governed Newspapers:   A New Opportunity?

Sponsored by Rutgers Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Center for Law and Justice, Rutgers University-Newark


8:45 AM

  • Coffee

9:10 AM

  • Welcome: Dr. Clement Alexander Price
  • Participants’ Introductions: three of your favorite hats – past or present.

9:25 AM

  •  Introduction: David Grant

9:30 AM

  • Brief meeting of "Interim Board" – envisioning exercise

10:15 AM

  • Response to issues of interest
  • Development of agenda for further discussion

10:30 AM

  • Coffee Break

10:40 AM

  • Issues for further discussion: role exchange?

11:45 AM

  • Lunch Break

11:55 AM

  • Summary; next steps


  • Conclusion


David Grant, President, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation


Clement Alexander Price, Director, Rutgers Institute for Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience; Professor of History, Rutgers University-Newark

Susan Haig, Creative Director, New Jersey Arts News


Thanks to Dr. Clement Alexander Price and the Rutgers Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience for sponsoring and hosting our dialogue.

Thanks to David Grant for facilitating our discussion, and to Marisa Pierson for all her administrative support!




  • Cephas Bowles, President, WBGO 89.3 FM (NPR affiliate-Newark)
  • Stephen Engelberg, Managing Editor, ProPublica 
  • Robin Gaby Fisher, Journalist and Author, Rutgers University-Newark
  • Clara Hemphill, Senior Editor, Center for New York City Affairs, the New School
  • Dave Jones, Assistant Managing Editor (retired), The New York Times 
  • Don Monroe, Science and Technology Writer, former Physicist, Bell Labs
  • Jim Schachter, Editor, Digital Initiatives, New York Times
  • Sheila Chenza Thimba, CAO and Associate Dean for Administration, Columbia Journalism School
  • Jim Willse, Editor (retired), The Star-Ledger


  • Carol Bartholomew, Violinist; fundraiser; retired Engineer, Raytheon
  • Linda Epps, Executive Director, New Jersey Historical Society 
  • Pat Ippoliti, Consultant and Executive Coach, Senior HR Executive
  • David Offensend, VP and COO, NY Public Library
  • Vicki Paulson, Strategic Business Consultant
  • Jane Rutkoff, Executive Director, New Jersey Council of the Humanities
  • Rob Snyder, Director, American Studies Program, Rutgers University-Newark
  • Nina Stack, Executive Director, Council of New Jersey Grantmakers
  • Kate Wood, Executive Producer, Burkewood Productions (TV and Video) 


Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience

November 19, 2009

Thank you for agreeing to participate in the round-table dialogue on "Independent, Citizen-Governed Newspapers: A New Opportunity?" at the Center for Law and Justice on Rutgers-Newark Campus, Chancellor's conference room, 5th floor, on Monday, November 23, 9 am to 12:30 pm. 

The purpose of the meeting is to explore the potential for new models for journalism based on the cultural values and aspirations of a city. David Grant, our facilitator, will move us briskly through the complex issues of nonprofit mission, governance, leadership, financial management, policy and community engagement in 21st-century democracy, while capturing and 'parking' the tactical issues of monetizing the Internet and leveraging new technologies.   (We plan to use a case study approach, using a mid-sized mid-Western newspaper, and we may assume various roles as board members or advisors to stimulate our thinking.)

Since there is no script regarding the conversion of large for-profit news entities to nonprofit status, we would like to adopt an open, exploratory, off-the-record approach to ideas and questions which arise and are of greatest interest to the group. 

Some issues to be thinking about include:

Who serves on the governing board? What is the required skill-set?
Who is responsible for orienting and informing board members on policy issues?
What is the ratio of earned vs. philanthropic revenue, and how may it change over time?
How will content change? How might content advance literacy and problem-solving?
Who (if anyone) manages relationships with local, county and state government?
What is the news organization’s vision and mission?
How does the new entity relate to other news organizations? 

The desired outcome of Monday’s dialogue is to answer the proposed question of whether a large citizen-governed nonprofit newspaper represents an opportunity for journalism.  If so, the next steps for conceptualizing a nonprofit conversion process and development plan might be outlined. 

Directions to the Center for Law and Justice (and parking) are attached, as well as comparative revenue structures for various cultural nonprofits, and a sample mission statement for discussion.

We look forward to seeing you Monday morning, and having a lively and constructive inquiry!


Dr. Clement Alexander Price    
Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, And the Modern Experience

Susan Haig
Creative Director, New Jersey Arts News


Rutgers-Newark, 175 University Avenue, Newark, NJ 07102
ph. 973-353-1871 | fax. 973-353-5218