In online-nonprofit-news terms, Charlottesville Tomorrow is an old timer. It’s been covering the growth and development around the Virginia city since 2005 — back with “twitter” was still a term confined to ornithological circles.
Born from executive director Brian Wheeler’s interest in local government (he serves as chairman of the county school board), the privately-funded Charlottesville Tomorrow isn’t just hyperlocal — it’s hypertargeted. No social calendars, no little-league scores, no general local news — just growth and development, covered at a level of detail no one else can match.
That focus helped Charlottesville Tomorrow build a positive reputation in the community and relationships with local media organizations, whose resources to cover those issues have shrunk. And one of those relationships recently became official: Charlottesville Tomorrow in August partnered with the local daily newspaper, The Daily Progress, to publish Charlottesville Tomorrow content in the Progress’ print and online editions.
As important if not moreso than their comprehensive coverage of growth and development (and the associated politics): OBJECTIVITY.
— The advantage of objectivity. Debating the pros and cons of a nonprofit news outlet requires tracking its coverage over an extended period of time. It’s like an NFL draft class. You can’t judge specific selections until years later when the swirl of talent, injuries, and opportunities settles into its natural state. What’s interesting about Charlottesville Tomorrow is that it has a track record. It can be judged. The Daily Progress, in perhaps the most overt thumbs-up a newspaper can offer, opened its print and online platforms to a nonprofit outsider.
Here’s the thing, though: Charlottesville Tomorrow has an agenda. At least one defined by its choice of topic — it focuses entirely on growth and development issues. Clearly, Wheeler cares about the topic.