North Country Public Radio launches fundraiser for investigative reporting

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New York’s North Country Public Radio is seeking to raise $50,000 to support investigative work of its news team.

The station, which is based in Canton, N.Y., and operates a network that carries its broadcasts into western Vermont and southeastern Ontario, launched a five-day fundraiser Friday for what it’s calling the “Daylight Reporting Fund.” Donations from the on-air and online drive will help the newsroom tackle stories it has been “unable to cover as completely and rigorously as we would like,” said Station Manager Ellen Rocco.

The fund could pay stringers while a staff reporter works on an investigative piece or cover costs of  travel, FOIA requests, data journalism training or coding, Rocco said.

“In a small but determined shop like ours, if a reporter spends a lot of time on an investigative piece, day-to-day reporting will suffer,” she said. “Or, if our digital guy is pulled away from on-going responsibilities to, say, build a new data app, our basic digital service suffers.”

One project the station hopes to finish is a congressional vote tracker app that shows how elected officials from the North Country region vote on legislation, Rocco said. The news team also wants to cover stories related to policing, local courts and immigration.

Four of NCPR’s 15 staffers are full-time reporters.

The station will continue to raise money for the fund after the initial five-day push, Rocco said. During its general fundraisers, the station might ask contributors to consider adding $5 to their donation to go toward the investigative fund.

“We will continue to build the fund — though we have to be careful to not jeopardize regular station fundraising,” she said.

NCPR hopes to raise $50,000-$100,000 for the fund annually, Rocco said. She plans to build on support from listeners by applying for grants and approaching major donors for special gifts.

The station had raised nearly $6,200 by this morning, according to the station’s website.