Support Local Journalism Through The Community News Fund


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Posted April 23, 2021 | By the Ocala Gazette staff

Ocala Gazette announces the launch of The Community News Fund.

In a measure to ensure that Ocala can sustain substantive journalism for years to come, the Ocala Gazette, with support from the Florida News Foundation, proudly announces the launch of a Community News Fund.

For at least a decade, substantive journalism in Ocala has declined despite the efforts of Ocala’s daily newspaper and the many community weekly newspapers, online news platforms, radio and television outlets tasked with covering local news.

The motivation for creating the Ocala Gazette in July 2020, despite the challenges posed by a global pandemic, was to establish an outlet that could actively work to fill that void.

Ocala needs and deserves the kind of journalism that comprehensively records our history by probing the stories that define Ocala and delivers information that allows its citizens oversight of their elected officials.

What led to the void?

As significant advertising revenue shifted from newspapers to social media outlets like Facebook, resources to support journalism became depleted.  Mass industry-wide layoffs left only a handful of journalists with few resources skimming the surface of local happenings, so that a significant portion of local government and critical social issues went unexplored, unchecked. Many newspapers responded by putting up “paywalls” (a method of restricting access to content, especially the news, restricting access to a purchase or a paid subscription) to draw more income from readers and become less reliant on advertising.

For the most part, readers felt let down with by the introduction of the paywalls, feeling cut off from information they felt was owed to them as a public service.  In response, readers shifted their attention to free online platforms that focused on delivering salacious crime reports and merely reposting press releases from various sources. This type of information provides very little value to a community and is not  the kind of substantive journalism that serves as a  watchdog for the community, delivering fair and fact-checked reporting that  protects Ocala through investigation and exploration of the topics that are vital to the citizens of our community.

What we can do together.

So that we are not beholden to any financial interest or vulnerable to threats by government or big business, we need your help to safeguard the future of local journalism in Ocala.

Those elected officials of which we ask hard questions can make policy decisions that either preserve or thwart local journalism’s survival. We ask that you request they support independent journalism because it serves the public’s interest. You can find out who your representatives are at www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

To be the watchdog we believe you want us to be, we need more reporters and resources to absorb the cost of more investigative stories. Some of the investigative subjects on our radar are: abuse of power and the spread of misinformation by governmental agencies; independent review of health-related issues, access to resources and best practices; corporate malfeasance and inappropriate or abusive business behaviors; discriminatory practices, bias and lack of representation.

And finally, we would like you to help us explore ways to sustain the type of journalism that is a true partner to the public, free to everyone who wants to stay connected and civically engaged.

By subscribing and donating to the Ocala Gazette, you help journalists keep citizens informed, hold officials accountable and cover the most important topics in our community. Your contributions will equip our newsroom to better serve you and all our readers, with more reporters on the street and more local news on our community.

All donations made to the Community News Fund are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

The Florida Community News Fund is a program administered by the Florida Press Foundation, tax ID #59-2449377, a 501 (C) (3) organization.

Those wishing to contribute can make donations online at https://fpf.column.us/ocala-gazette, or send a check, payable to the Florida Press Foundation, to the Press Foundation at 336 East College Avenue, Suite 304, Tallahassee, FL 32301. Don’t forget to note the donation is for the benefit of the Ocala Gazette. Donations will be processed through the Florida Community News Fund and then sent to the newspaper.