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sult, small papers with few resources have been left to fend for themselves as the ground shifts under them.
The Relevance Project grew out of that frustration, with the Newspaper Association Managers collectively retaining rebranding expert Andy Cunningham of the Cunningham Collective to help diagnose problems and develop solutions. Working with papers from around the country, Cunningham’s research took stock of all the industry’s warts, from public mistrust to falling page counts, rising subscription costs and poorly functioning websites.
From the newspaper association managers’ perspective, the results were a much-needed slap in the face – newspapers weren’t doing the right things by their readers. The Relevance Project is working to reassert newspapers’ relevance to their communities by building on the credibility they already have. It aims to remind people that newspapers serve as a trusted community forum and as a resource.
A newspaper’s strength and future rely on its local community; fortifying that relationship will fortify the paper. To do that, the project is coordinating efforts and supplying resources for newspapers across the continent working to find new ways of building reader trust and community engagement.
The key to the project’s success will be its focus on concrete tools that even papers with limited resources can adopt. The project’s superpower is the thousands of local newspapers who may choose to participate. With potentially 8,600 local daily and weekly newspapers participating, there’s a huge opportunity to reinvent the community forum, to re-engage communities to collectively address issues, and to make a substantial impact both for the readers and the newspapers. (Newspapers that are not yet utilizing Relevance Project materials can access the everincreasing archive of tools at: The Relevance Project – WordPress.com https:// relevanceprojectnet. wordpress.com Michelle K. Rea Executive Director New York Press Association/ New York Press Service.)