Nebraska Public Media receives donation of online news sites

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Nebraska Public Media

Nebraska Public Media's headquarters in Lincoln.

Nebraska Public Media plans to continue the online journalism of two Omaha newspapers. 

The Reader and its Spanish-language sister publication El Perico were gifted to the joint licensee, according to an announcement earlier this month. 

Both monthly newspapers published farewell editions in September of last year, although a film reviewer has continued to post content on The Reader’s website. 

NPM is engaging with freelance writers who have covered arts and culture in the Omaha area with the goal of resuming new online content later this summer, according to NPM CCO Nancy Finken. Print editions are not part of the current plan. 

“We have a robust news department,” Finken said in an interview with Current. “We have aspirations to serve Omaha in a deeper and richer way.” 

NPM also hopes to serve Spanish-speaking Nebraskans, Finken said. 

NPM has a bilingual journalist on staff, she said, and will continue to build its resources to provide original reporting in Spanish and to translate stories from English into Spanish. Finken also said NPM could pursue partnerships with Spanish-language journalism organizations in the area. 

Pioneer Publishing’s John Heaston founded both publications, launching The Reader in 1994, according to a news release. 

Finken said she called Heaston when she learned the newspapers would stop publishing. Over a series of conversations, they discussed their shared mission of public service journalism as well as NPM’s goals to strengthen service in the Omaha area including for Spanish speakers. 

NPM did due diligence for several months to understand the newspapers’ operations and how acquiring them would align with its aspirations, Finken said.

“I’m pleased ‘The Reader’ and ‘El Perico’ will continue to make a positive impact on our community under the direction of Nebraska Public Media,” Heaston said in the release. “I’m confident the network has the talent, vision and integrity to continue our work in the same tradition that has made our publications known as trustworthy, timely sources of news and information.”

NPM CEO Mark Leonard said in the release the move amplifies a commitment to in-depth coverage of “people, places and issues that may not be receiving the kind of attention that public media journalism can provide. 

“And we will shine a spotlight on Omaha and all it has to offer in live music, art, food and much more.” 

Finken told Current that NPM reached out to public media stations that have acquired newspapers, specifically WXXI in Rochester, N.Y., but sees The Reader and El Perico as different since NPM is not acquiring a large newsroom. 

NPM is not taking on staff positions or the expectation of continuing a print publication, Finken said. 

“We felt like we could be comfortable with the investment that we’re making in freelance growth and what we hope would be incremental growth after that,” Finken said. 

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