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Monitor’s new community-building tool helps foster accountability and trust

Monday, April 4, 2022 by Joel Gross

Earlier this month, the Austin Monitor proudly participated in Amplify Austin Day. I previously laid out why this day is so special. Today, in addition to thanking our scores of supporters, I want to go deeper on why the follow-through from this day of giving is vital to our organization and mission. 

To lead off, I’m excited to share the launch of a new tool that will help you discover more stories that hit close to home. We are so honored that hundreds of members from across the community chose to support our work when we removed our paywall and during Amplify Austin Day. Now we’re taking action to strengthen our impact and uphold the trust you placed in us.

Our new front-page Discover News by District tool allows you to quickly zoom in to find and follow the hyperlocal stories that are developing right in your backyard – your City Council district. Council districts are a vital framework in local government, and there is a direct line back to your elected Council members, city services and shared resources.

This tool also helps drive accountability. For over eight years, our nonprofit news organization has produced focused reporting that shines a light on critical decision making. We hope the launch of this new tool will help Austin residents gain more insight and understanding about their government. But this accountability applies to us as well. Mapping stories by district will help ensure we’re covering the whole community and not just the loudest voices. In keeping with our value of transparency, we will share our progress and when we come up short, and we hope you’ll help keep us accountable too.       

The concepts of trust and accountability are so important because they are the foundation of our reporting approach and our mission. Strong, healthy communities are built on the trust that everyone can play a part in shaping their community’s future. This in turn requires access to trusted news and tools that give community members the opportunity to discover, connect and engage with important issues and key decisions. 

It’s no coincidence that our three main impact areas going forward are centered on discovery, connection and engagement. The launch of our Discover News by District tool is a meaningful first step in helping readers discover new and important local stories, and we can’t wait to continue making progress in all these impact areas. 

You may have noticed that we also introduced a new feature profiling local nonprofits. We hope that bringing more attention to these community-focused organizations helps further strengthen your connection to the people and causes that distinguish our community and make it such a special place to live. 

We look forward to sharing our progress and continuing the discussion with you. Most of all, thanks for your support and trust. 

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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