Chesapeake Media Service is a nonprofit organization, which received its 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is: "To expand independent, unbiased reporting that informs the public about environmental issues affecting the Chesapeake Bay and mid-Atlantic region and inspires effective action to restore, protect and preserve their cultural and natural heritage."
What we do:
CMS produces the Bay Journal, a monthly newspaper created and funded 19 years ago to cover Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. It has steadily grown in stature and importance. Its 28 pages, published monthly and mailed free to some 35,000 readers, 11,000 distributed in nature centers, libraries, marinas and other public venues, and another 4,000 distributed to classes in more than 90 schools. It has become a must-read for anyone who would be knowledgeable about restoring and enjoying the Chesapeake.
CMS also operates the Bay Journal News Service, a syndication arrangement that provides weekly, free Op-Ed pieces to newspapers throughout the Chesapeake watershed. Our Op-Eds have appeared in more than 100 newspapers in the watershed, typically reaching about 4 million potential readers a month. In addition our pieces have appeared on web sites of many more papers nationwide.
The emerging need:
Much of the media industry that serves the Chesapeake Bay region is in dire straits. Newspapers across the nation are running in the red, going out of business or up for sale with no buyers. Reporters are being laid off, bought out, or simply leaving to find more secure futures. As a result serious, in depth environmental reporting is declining, a trend that seems likely to grow worse. Not only are the number of articles declining, the space devoted to those articles is declining. The latter issue is especially problematic because many issues such as the Bay -- and environmental issues in general -- are often complex and require a fair amount of background to understand. Some reporters say the lack of space makes it impractical to tell some of these stories at all.
Chesapeake Media Service is laying the groundwork to adapt to this changing media environment. As the news industry reels, many think the future lies in nonprofit journalism, a model pioneered by National Public Radio. With a combination of support from government agencies, foundations and individuals, we are building a nonprofit journalism model that, if successful, could be adopted by others.
At a critical time when other media outlets are cutting back, Chesapeake Media Service is making investments in expanding Bay Journal coverage of core issues confronting the Chesapeake Bay and the Chesapeake Bay Program. It has also laid the groundwork for a syndication service capable of reaching much larger audiences.