Report for America and partners announce panel on trust and media at South by Southwest

Boston, Mass. November 27, 2018 — At a pivotal time for local journalism in the public interest, Report for America and its partners at Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Civil Foundation and Mississippi Today are proud to announce a panel at South by Southwest (SXSW) in March, titled “The Battle of Local News vs. Disinformation.”

This timely panel features Vivian Schiller, CEO of Civil Foundation; Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and of Craig Newmark Philanthropies; R.L. Nave, editor-in-chief of Mississippi Today; and Steven Waldman, co-founder and president of Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project.

A movement is underway to revitalize local news across the country in an effort to better inform Americans, build relationships of trust between news organizations and their communities, and shut out what is sometimes called “fake news.”

Local communities are weaker without robust news ecosystems. Civic engagement declines, public financing costs more, and residents no longer get the information they need to understand critical issues, make good decisions and hold elected officials to account. Meanwhile, new research finds that as newspapers close, political polarization increases. This creates fertile ground for misinformation and disinformation.

“The information voids created by news deserts have all kinds of negative implications for communities, including vulnerability to disinformation,” Waldman said. “I look forward to exploring solutions to the local news crisis at SXSW along with the striking dangers of inaction.”

Mississippi Today’s Nave added, “There’s never been a more important time for local journalism nor a more exciting time to be on the ground covering local communities. It’s also a necessary time for news organizations to move past old competitive mindsets and think collaboratively about bringing together the strengths of newsrooms to better serve our audiences.”

Craig Newmark Philanthropies was created by craigslist founder Craig Newmark to support and connect people and drive broad civic engagement. The organization works to advance people and grassroots organizations that are getting stuff done in areas that include trustworthy journalism, voter protection, gender diversity in technology, and veterans and military families. For more information, please visit:

Civil Foundation is the not-for profit arm of Civil, the community-owned network of newsrooms designed to advance sustainability for trustworthy journalism. The foundation supports news organization around the world with tools, services and grants in support of their mission. Learn more at

Mississippi Today is a news and media company with a forward-facing mission of civic engagement and public dialog through service journalism, live events and digital outreach. Our newsroom is dedicated to providing Mississippians with reporting that inspires active interest in their state and equips them to engage in community life. Established in 2016, Mississippi Today is the state’s only nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom boasting the largest editorial staff in the region with a team of 15 journalists.

Report for America is a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities. Launched in 2017 and donor-financed, the program is creating a new, sustainable system that provides Americans with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable, and rebuild trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit media organization with an established track record of training and supporting teams of emerging journalists around the world and in the US.

Press Contacts:

Report for America

Suzanne Gibbons-Neff


Craig Newmark Philanthropies

Carner Round


Mississippi Today

Mary Margaret White


[email protected]