Tick, tock

CN&R needs the public’s help to raise $25,000 by the end of this month

When talking to folks about the Chico News & Review Foundation and our fundraising efforts to fill that nonprofit’s coffers to pay exclusively for investigative reporting on local issues, I’ve heard a variation of the same question: “Isn’t it already the CN&R’s job to do investigative reporting?”

In other words, people expect this newspaper to have that sort of work in its pages. I get where they’re coming from. This is an outlet for investigative work. We’ve published pieces on fracking, informed residents about the explosive crude oil being transported on the Feather River Canyon’s railways, and how the city of Chico’s salaries and benefits are among the most expensive in the state. Speaking of which, the city’s fiscal tenuity was predicted in an award-winning story by the late Richard Ek just before the Great Recession (see “Breaking the bank,” March 29, 2007).

Thing is, for every investigative piece we publish, there are dozens of others that go unreported because there are too few reporters in Chico. Sounds like a simple fix, right? Just hire more reporters. If only it was that simple.

See, this newspaper is a for-profit business. We don’t get grant funding (like public radio stations or other nonprofits do). The editorial department I manage has a fixed budget that pays for the work of the freelance contributors in CN&R’s pages and also for our staff of journalists—five full-time and one half-time.

Right now, we have our hands full, whether that’s Staff Writer Ken Smith’s report on three homeless people dying in a short stretch (see “The final kindness,” cover story, Dec. 17, 2015), or perhaps Managing Editor Meredith J. Cooper’s story on the city approving the construction of a 24-foot-tall building feet from residences in a north Chico neighborhood (see “The great wall,” Newslines, May 28, 2015), or even yours truly writing about local politics, including a councilwoman’s insensitive comments (and cursing) during a meeting on homelessness (see “Rookie moves,” Second & Flume, Sept. 24, 2015).

All of the things I just mentioned have been reported in this newspaper alone. They’re not pretty, but they are important. We need to discuss the fact that human beings are literally dying on our streets. We need to hear about when the city screws up. We need to know when our elected leaders are out of touch with reality. We must discuss these things and come up with solutions to better our community.

We’ll keep doing this type of work. But we want to delve even deeper, and that’s where the nonprofit CN&R Foundation comes in. All of the money will pay outside journalists to work on underreported and important topics. None of the funds will go to this company’s bottom line. We are nearing our goal of raising $25,000, but we’re not there yet. We have roughly a week left to hit that number. If we do so by Jan. 31, an anonymous donor will pile on and additional $10,000. Contributing even a few bucks will help. To donate, go to www.nvcf.org/fund/chico-news-review-foundation or send a check to North Valley Community Foundation, 240 Main St., Chico, CA, 95928 (write CN&R Foundation in the notation). Thank you!