Charlottesville Tomorrow has a standard for editorial independence that is reinforced by our membership in the Institute for Nonprofit News. In short, we operate through contributions from the communities we serve, foundations and sponsors, but those donors do not have influence on our reporting any more than other members of our community.
We accept — and require — gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals and organizations for the general support of our activities. Our editorial decisions are driven by listening to our community about what they want from local news and within the expertise of our newsroom. We know that one thing the communities we serve value is our editorial independence.
We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and all sources of revenue, including content that might be sponsored and labeled clearly. When we accept donations, sponsorships, grants or any kind of financial support, we do not imply endorsement or endorse donors, their products, services or opinions.
We cede no right of review or influence of editorial content.
We will accept anonymous donations for general support only if it is clear that decisions about how those donations are spent are made independently by our organization and are in compliance with INN’s Membership Standards.
Conflicts of Interest
We all live together in the communities we cover and are connected in many ways, through schools, employment, family and friends. Charlottesville Tomorrow does its best to prevent or be transparent about conflicts of interest in our reporting, particularly when reporters, editors or the organization have financial interests in coverage areas. We are part of this community and encourage our staff and contributors to be involved in the causes and organizations they care about; our commitment to readers is that we will disclose that involvement when it is directly relevant to the reporting.
Many people support our work with small and large donations; we do not disclose in articles who is and isn’t a financial supporter unless they give more than $4,999 in the current year. You can see a list of our supporters here.
Our commitment to our community
As a nonprofit news organization, we realize that the failure of local media, now and historically, has not just been about the business model. Too often, local news in small markets have failed communities of color and many other marginalized communities. We could go on contextualizing that statement, but will hope you follow that logic at face value.
When Charlottesville Tomorrow’s board changed its mission in 2018, we refocused on serving the whole community. We also adopted the values of truth, community and equity. Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion as a news organization rests on making sure Charlottesville Tomorrow is inclusive to all of our staff and to all of our readers, and that we compensate staff and contributors fairly to allow people from all backgrounds to take part in telling the stories of central Virginia.
Equity in news is a concept still being defined by news organizations all over the world, but it nearly always involves a framework in which we develop processes that work against implicit biases, both internally and in our coverage areas. In the past, many journalists believed that just being objective and relentless in their pursuit of truth was enough to achieve fair outcomes. But they also mostly worked in newsrooms that were not diverse enough and prioritized, intentionally or not, white audiences. To ensure that a newsroom functions with equity as a goal amongst a diverse group of journalists serving an even more diverse audience, you really have to work hard to open up and dig deep.
At the most basic level, as a reporter you have to realize that it is much harder for a working single mother to show up at a meeting or call a reporter about an issue than for a developer’s lawyer. For every story we report, we ask who is most affected by the decisions or systems we are covering, who has privileged access to influencing those decisions and systems and whose voices are we including and magnifying? At an organizational level, we understand how we play in the digital distribution marketplace, often controlled by the proprietary algorithms of Google and Facebook, and work to make the news more directly accessible.
Since 2018, we have been asked many times in many ways if our focus on equity — racial equity, in particular — means that we only care about “social justice” or if we have a “woke agenda.”
Here’s our response: We know that our organization’s work looks different than what some people in our community might be used to. This is not a reflection of a political agenda, it is part of how we are trying to shift what journalism can do for more people in our community. We are committed to our values of community, truth and equity and to centering those who are most affected by pressing issues. We believe that the control of local media is a frontline conversation of racial justice. And we hope you will hold us accountable and join us in creating a community-centered news organization that uses the best practices of journalism to help us build the communities we want for ourselves and our children.
The best way to reach us is by messaging us through this website. This way, your note will reach the right people on our team and we’ll have the right information to respond.
Here’s a bit more about our values.
Truth is the foundation of all great journalism, but truth in news is not simply the regurgitation of facts and quotes. We commit to delivering stories that incorporate the highest standards of journalism through the use of in-depth reporting, data, diverse perspectives, human-focused storytelling, creative formats and exhaustive sourcing. Our goal is to slow down, to develop long-term source networks, and to pursue stories that help establish shared truth in public decision-making.
We believe that central Virginia has the resources to provide opportunity and well-being for all of its people, regardless of age, race, income, gender or nationality. We recognize that our community is made up of many interrelated and interconnected communities. In our journalism, we seek to establish healthy community dialogue, to examine solutions that solve systemic problems, and to cover the issues that matter the most to all of us.
By embracing the value of equity, we commit to elevating the voices of the people most impacted by decisions and policies, and we strive to reach audiences in vulnerable communities with journalism that empowers and inspires them. We recognize that media coverage has a natural tendency to prioritize vocal, powerful, and organized interests, so we work to ensure that our coverage represents diverse perspectives.