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Twin Cities Media Alliance wins Excellence in Journalism Foundation funding

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Times are tough in the news business, but one local journalism non-profit has some good news: The Twin Cities Media Alliance, which operates the Twin Cities Daily Planet, has won a $75,000 grant from the Challenge Fund for Journalism aimed at helping it build a more dependable and sustainable fundraising operation.

The two-year matching grant was one 13 awarded by CFJ from a $875,819 pool created through donations from the Ford, McCormick, and Ethics and Excellence in Journalism foundations. Among the other winners: The Columbia Journalism Review, the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism and the Chicago Reporter.

TCDP is produced daily on a shoestring budget by a handful of part-time editors and a small army of volunteer contributors. It publishes original work, aggregates and curates a broad selection of local news produced by immigrant communities and other groups underrepresented in the mainstream press, and supports a growing stable of bloggers. The alliance also produces workshops for citizen journalists, and hosts informal lunchtime "brown bag" gatherings of local journalists, newsmakers and citizens.

"The grant will let us professionalize our fundraising," said the organization's executive director, Jeremy Iggers. Consultants will help build a more intelligent and systematic program for finding and keeping financial donors and editorial contributors -- "building capacity," in non-profit lingo -- for example. At the same time, he said the alliance will keep pushing for growth in revenue from advertising and donors to help meet th matching grant.

In recent months, the alliance has also nailed down grants from The Minneapolis Foundation, The St. Paul foundation, and the Bigelow Foundation, Iggers said. The Bigelow funding was directly responsible for a lengthy feature on the site today about the antipathy felt by African immigrants and refugees toward the 2010 U.S. Census. Produced in collaboration with Mshale, a Minnesota based news site for Africans in the Americas, the story is part of a larger package underwritten by Bigelow and aimed at educating immigrants about the benefits of having their numbers accurately counted.

(Full disclosure: I worked part time for the Twin Cities Media Alliance in 2009.)