As traditional media revenue sources evaporated and legacy media scrambled for survival, KSU professor Leonard Witt made a modest proposal. What if people chipped in to underwrite a journalist to cover their chosen beat? Ruth Ann contacted Len to find out more, and together they tested his theories in the real world. Who will pay for high-quality, reliably sourced, relevant journalism on significant topics?
Len had bigger ideas. He proposed the creation of the Center for Sustainable Journalism to continue exploring new ways of creating and paying for information. The Harnisch Foundation became the Center’s founding funder and met quarterly with the CSJ team to gauge progress.
The CSJ now makes national impact with its current capstone project, the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange and the online and print publication Youth Today. Original, in-depth reporting, commentary, research and resources for the youth justice and “out of school time” sectors attract thousands of subscribers and viewers, representing a variety of stakeholders in youth services including police, parents, courts, lawmakers, educators, volunteers, parents, and businesses.
The JJIE and YT are proving Len’s concepts every day: people and institutions with an interest in news about a specific beat are willing to pay for that news.