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Jax Daily Record Monday, Oct. 18, 202110:00 AM EST

WJCT awarded $500,000 grant for local journalism initiative

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The public media organization launches a daily newsletter and hires a senior news editor.

WJCT Public Media announced Oct. 18 that the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations awarded a $500,000 grant to its Local Journalism Initiative.

It accompanies a new Monday-Friday newsletter, Jacksonville Today, which launched Oct. 18. Its website is jaxtoday.org.

The initiative emphasizes strengthening local news reporting in Northeast Florida by expanding local reporting capabilities and online publication, WJCT said.

WJCT is a news partner with the Jacksonville Daily Record and Record & Observer.

WJCT said other organizations, such as the Florida Blue Foundation, VyStar Credit Union and the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, along with individual donors, also made commitments of support for the initiative.

The initiative has received more than $1 million in grants and pledges of support, said the WJCT news release.

“The need for high-quality local journalism in Jacksonville and across the United States is greater than ever,” said Michael Murray, CEO of the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, in the release.

“WJCT and the network of publicly owned and supported media outlets have the infrastructure, reach, and talent pool to address this need immediately and cost-effectively.”

The release said the foundation is “very pleased to be able to partner with many other supporters in the community in making this strategic investment in Jacksonville Today.”

WJCT said the five-day-a-week Jacksonville Today “builds on WJCT Public  Media’s success with ‘vertical’ digital publications, such as ADAPT, focused on the regional response to climate change and sea-level rise, and The Jaxson, focused on the urban fabric of the region and published in partnership with Modern Cities, Inc.”

The newsletter will spotlight the work of WJCT News’ content-sharing partners, including the Daily Record, News4Jax and The Florida Times-Union.

It said a full Jacksonville Today website will follow in the spring as reporting expands.

“This is an important milestone in our work to play a more vital role in bringing local news and information to everyone in our region, and to do so in the place where more and more of us get our news: online,” said WJCT Public Media CEO David McGowan in the release.

“We know that high-quality, non-partisan local journalism is vital to our civic life as a community, and we are very happy to have the backing of the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations and other community partners as we build out this new service.”

WJCT Public Media also announced that it appointed Randy Roguski as senior news editor. He previously was the metro editor at the South Florida Sun Sentinel, where he led investigative coverage that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for public service for reporting on the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. 

WJCT said Roguski has spent more than 35 years in reporting and editing positions in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida.

“Randy’s experience and news judgment are a welcome addition to WJCT News,” said WJCT Editorial Director Jessica Palombo in the release, “along with our recent hiring of reporters and the additional positions we’ll be filling in the coming year.”

Palombo said the newsroom expansion will “rise to meet the information needs of our community on multiple platforms.”

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