Like virtually every other region of the United States, northeast Indiana faces two looming crises: the critical lack of affordable housing that has had a devastating impact on Fort Wayne and surrounding communities; and the gradual decline of news-gathering organizations due to financial and other pressures.
Concerned about the housing crisis and the dwindling number and size of local news organizations, representatives of Input Fort Wayne, the Center for Collaborative Media at Purdue University Fort Wayne, and Fort Wayne Ink Spot approached the New York-based Solutions Journalism Network in 2021 to discuss their concerns, and these increasingly urgent problems.
The Solutions Journalism Network is a nonprofit organization committed to transforming journalism and giving all people access to news that helps them envision and build a more equitable and sustainable world. SJN’s Local Media Project was launched in 2019, to strengthen and reinvigorate local media ecosystems by catalyzing and supporting sustainable solutions journalism-oriented collaboratives.
In January 2022, the Fort Wayne Media Collaborative was born out of those discussions. With a two-year $200,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation and support from the SJN’s Local Media Project, the Collaborative quickly grew to include seven news organizations: WANE-TV, WBOI-FM Public Radio, Input Fort Wayne (an Issues Media Group publication), Fort Wayne Magazine, Fort Wayne Ink Spot, El Mexicano, and Lofthouse Films, as well as three academic institutions – Purdue Fort Wayne, the University of Saint Francis, and the Indiana Institute of Technology.
The leaders and representatives of these organizations care deeply about the ongoing housing crisis, and resolved to pool their talents, energy and resources to tackle the issue head-on. The Collaborative is hard at work on stories, videos, photos, and podcasts that explore solutions to the region’s housing crisis based on solid evidence and data-gathering. Our stories will propose solutions, actions that government, institutions, neighborhoods, and individuals can take to change the community dynamic, ease human suffering and foster the creation and nurturing of thriving, healthy neighborhoods.
Collaborative members publish our work on this website, and on the websites, print, radio, and video platforms of all our members. We also invite other media outlets around the region, and around the state to share our published work with their readers, listeners and viewers.
The Solutions Journalism Network:
The Solutions Journalism Network’s mission is to spread the practice of solutions journalism: rigorous reporting that relies heavily on data-driven research to help root out and solve social problems. We seek to rebalance the news, so that every day people are exposed to stories that help them understand problems and challenges, and stories that demonstrate potential ways to respond. For more information, visit solutionsjournalism.org
The mission of the Fort Wayne Media Collaborative is to bring together Fort Wayne’s media resources to address complex community challenges by creating and disseminating solid, evidence-based journalism.
We envision transforming the nature of local journalism in Fort Wayne and giving our community greater access to solutions-oriented news that encourages civic engagement.
The Fort Wayne Media Collaborative’s values reflect the four pillars of Solutions Journalism:
- Our reporting is rooted in investigating responses to social challenges and assessing their effectiveness.
- We offer insight into challenges and solutions we identify, making them relevant to all of Fort Wayne and the northeast Indiana region.
- Our reporting is evidence-based, focused on ferreting out, understanding, and presenting accurate data about solutions we identify. We are transparent with readers about the effectiveness and limitations of our findings.
- We carefully delineate the limitations and context of solutions we identify, with the realization that communities and social challenges are complex, and there are no one-size-fits-all solutions to the challenges we face.
- We strive for an increase in engagement around potential solutions to community challenges, both in terms of numbers and time spent with collaborative content and education.
- We strive to increase understanding and awareness among community members around the challenges we identify in our region, both those who the issues directly affect, those seemingly outside of these issues, and those who have power to solve problems.
- We strive to increase community understanding and awareness of the systemic nature of poverty in Fort Wayne, and the deep interconnectedness of socio-economic factors that impact community growth and economic development.
- By focusing on solutions, we strive to make the news and information we present more inclusive and engaging to disenfranchised audiences and community members, helping them tell their stories, and empowering local leaders with constructive ideas for improvement.
Member Media Companies/Organizations and Representatives:
- Input Fort Wayne (Issues Media Group): Kara Hackett, Managing Editor
- Fort Wayne Magazine: Steve Penhollow, Managing Editor
- Fort Wayne Ink Spot: John Dortch, Publisher
- El Mexicano, Fernando Zapari, Publisher
- WBOI – 89.1 (Northeast Indiana Public Radio): Rebecca Green, News Director
- WANE – TV: Dirk Rowley, Evening Anchor
- Lofthouse Films: Aaron Voglewede, Co-Founder
- Purdue University Fort Wayne:
- Alix Watson, Associate Director, Center for Collaborative Media
- Heloisa Wilkerson, Department of Communication/Faculty Advisor
- University of Saint Francis: Reggie Hayes, Director of External Communications
- Indiana Institute of Technology: Matt Bair, Director, Marketing and Communication
Fort Wayne Media Collaborative Staff:
- Julie Creek, Project Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org, 260-466-8235)
- David Gong, Community Engagement Coordinator
- Brianna Datta, Social Media Coordinator/Webmaster/Photographer
Meet the FWMC members and staff:
Julie Creek: A Bloomington native, Julie was a grant-writer, print journalist, editor, and freelance writer in Bloomington, Boston (MA), and Fort Wayne for 28 years, and then spent 11 years as a higher education administrator. She returned to journalism in early 2022 to coordinate the work of the Collaborative. She is also a professional grant-writer and consultant.
Dave Gong: Dave Gong is a freelance journalist and the community engagement coordinator for the Fort Wayne Media Collaborative. Dave has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Northern Illinois University and a Master of Arts in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield. From 2014 to 2021, Dave covered Fort Wayne and Allen County, as the Local Government Reporter for The Journal Gazette and previously covered government and politics for several daily newspapers in Illinois.
Brianna Datta: A Fort Wayne native, Brianna is a recent graduate from Purdue University Fort Wayne, where she studied communication and media production. Brianna is a photographer, webmaster, and social media coordinator for the Fort Wayne Media Collaborative. She also works for the center for collaborative media at Purdue Fort Wayne as a tech and production assistant.