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DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER: Our Mission To You

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A few days before Halloween, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, with the autumn leaves blazing red and orange, the Messenger’s Board of Directors gathered for its first strategic meeting. (In case we haven’t hit you over the head with it, the Messenger became a nonprofit this summer.) The strategic meeting was particularly important because the Messenger is forging new ground—both for itself and also for newspapers.

Traditionally, newspapers are for-profit enterprises. But in the past 15 years, the business model for publications has eroded, as the internet has chipped away its foundation of ad revenue. Dozens of major newspapers have gone under, and many others are struggling. But a small number of trying to create their own lifeboats and becoming nonprofits. It is a means to receive grants and membership support—and, more broadly, it makes sense: Newspapers are for the community and public good; shouldn’t their business model reflect that intent?

Point being: The idea for a newspaper to be a nonprofit is fairly novel and doesn’t lend us many models to follow, so when the five members of the Messenger’s Board of Director gathered in late October, they needed to start from scratch. But surprisingly, they crafted a preliminary mission statement is what may be a land-speed record for nonprofits. In about five minutes, they came up with a statement that seems to reflect our intent and desire.

“The Rogue Valley Messenger,” they wrote, “is a news and culture publication that promotes and supports what is most unique and vibrant about Southern Oregon and its residents. We engage the community by providing access to news, arts, and cultural events through positive reporting, up to date accurate information and listings, and feature articles.”

What do you think? Help us fine-tune it (after all, you are our audience and, we hope, part of this community that we hope to help build and add to)?

An important part of carrying forward this mission, the Messenger is beginning to host events to “engage the community.” (We also have a membership program which isn’t simply asking for your donation, but is offering tickets to events and providing special tours of local breweries, roasters and places that make the region “unique and vibrant.”) In the coming weeks, we hope you will join us at two community events and help us build a community beyond the four corners of this newspaper. On Tuesday, November 28, the Messenger is hosting the second annual Giving Tuesday event. It is part of an emerging national trend, a day to spotlight regional nonprofits and encourage residents to support them through money and volunteer time. Our event is free, and hosts a dozen nonprofits as an event that is modeled after speed dating—visit each nonprofit, hear about their programs and decide if you want to give. (5:30 – 8 pm, Collaborative Theatre Project, 555 Medford Center) Our second event is a CD release party: Over the past month, our Music Editor Josh Gross has gathered up 20 tracks from 20 different local musicians. (We were overwhelmed with submissions, which is a good problem!) On Friday, December 8, he will present that CD, and four of the bands, at the second annual Southern Oregon Music Compilation (8 pm, Talent Club, 114 Talent Dr.)

We truly hope that the Messenger both can reflect what is unique and vibrant, and also can serve as a community leader to gather not only stories and interviews, but people, and help create a community that isn’t just online and on paper, but is real.

 

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