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Introducing the Austin Monitor’s strategic advisory council of guides

Thursday, September 23, 2021 by Joel Gross

Few industries are as American as the press. Revered by the Founding Fathers as “one of the great bulwarks of liberty,” the role of the free press is literally written into the First Amendment, and its impact has proven invaluable time and time again. 

At the same time, the vast majority of news outlets operate as a business enterprise striving to carry on in increasingly challenging circumstances. For many news outlets, these circumstances have become untenable over the last 20 years due to, among other areas, the democratization of information through the internet and the explosion of data-targeting technologies.  

This complicates our collective relationship with the news. We know it’s important, but it has also become difficult to determine who a news organization is serving and what they are really trying to achieve. Much ink has been spilled over the strip mining of local news companies by hedge funds that see their value as a line item on a balance sheet rather than an essential component of a healthy democracy. 

As a nonprofit nonpartisan digital news organization with a clear mission, we know who we serve: you. This is both an honor and an immense responsibility that we do not take lightly. The quantity and speed of information in our world can often feel distorting and leaves many of us questioning both our sense of reality in the present and way of life in the future.  

With the stakes this high, we cannot sit back and rely on occasional feedback from a reader or community member to guide us forward. The information landscape and the needs of the community are changing too quickly. We need individuals who have a finger on the pulse of the community, who understand local news organizations and who will push us to do better. This is where our strategic advisory council comes in. 

Along with our board of directors, our strategic advisory council is a dedicated group of local leaders who share our passion for strengthening the community. The council has three focus areas that will help the Austin Monitor better serve our readers and the community. First, the council will analyze emerging reader engagement trends in the local news space and make recommendations on how the Monitor could leverage these trends. Second, the council will provide strategic feedback during the development of our annual mission-based organizational goals. Third, the council will raise awareness of our work and help the Monitor reach new readers across the community.  

In addition to our team, board and community partners, these advisory council members are yet another resource to hear new ideas from our readers and the community and help us advance our mission. Each member recognizes the significance of this moment in local news – a moment when the free press of our Founding Fathers is encountering historic challenges. Thankfully, they are up for helping us navigate these challenges and have graciously committed their time, support and wisdom over the coming year. When I think of this group, I can’t help but think of this oft-used proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Forward and together we go. 

Joel Gross is the CEO of the Austin Monitor

The Austin Monitor’s work is made possible by donations from the community. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we are careful to keep business and editorial efforts separate while maintaining transparency. A complete list of donors is available here, and our code of ethics is explained here.

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