The Nashville Banner is a locally owned, community supported civic news organization. We exist to empower the citizens of Nashville and Tennessee to make informed decisions by providing non-partisan journalism from an independent, nonprofit newsroom. We are digital-first, with no paywall for our stories because we believe everyone should have access to news.
The Banner is a direct response to the decline of public service journalism in Tennessee.
What’s wrong with local news?
To be blunt, local news in America is in crisis. Nationally, one in four newspapers published in 2005 no longer exist. 1,800 communities are now news deserts. Hedge funds and private equity account for 55% of the total newspaper circulation in the U.S. These firms make zero investment in local newsrooms, leaving citizens less informed, institutions of power more corrupt, and communities more deeply divided.
Even in Nashville?
When the Nashville Banner closed in 1998, the Gannett-owned Tennessean had a robust newsroom of 180 people. Two decades later, that staff has been cut by two-thirds and the paper is a shell of itself even while the city and region have enjoyed massive growth. Every “local” tv news outlet is owned by an out-of-market mass media company. Legacy news organizations are chasing clicks and viewer spikes while hiding quality journalism and stories of civic importance behind paywalls. We aren’t learning about our neighbors, celebrating a shared Nashville culture, or staying informed and engaged on issues that affect our community.
Think about it like this
It’s easy to focus on the loss of hundreds of reporting jobs in Nashville, but we think a more instructive way to think about the local news crisis is this: What would happen if you woke up tomorrow morning and there were 50 more quality news stories about Nashville and Tennessee? How many more communities could we cover that are underrepresented or in some cases completely ignored? How much more investigative journalism could be done to hold people and institutions of power accountable? How much better would you know the place you call home? That is what the loss of reporting jobs represents. It’s time for us to start doing something different.
Nonprofit news: A better way
In the last decade, the rise of nonprofit newsrooms has provided a way forward. Built on audience support and philanthropy instead of advertising, organizations like the Texas Tribune, BlockClub in Chicago, CalMatters and more have charted a path forward for local news. In Tennessee, it’s no surprise that the two local newsrooms with the only growth — WPLN in Nashville and the Daily Memphian — are nonprofits. In just three years, the Daily Memphian has grown bigger than the Gannett-owned Commercial Appeal. The nonprofit model is sustainable, offers the best incentives for quality news, and provides Nashville’s best hope for replacing the local news that we’ve lost.
The new Nashville Banner
We’ve raised more than 50% of our local goal to launch a newsroom of 10 journalists. We’ll cover civic news, the kinds of things that help you make decisions about the community you live in: Metro government, state government, courts, criminal justice, the environment, education, housing and development, healthcare and more. What we need now more than anything is more boots on the ground journalists providing information that readers can trust. No opinion. No endorsements. Just news.