Local that Works

Local that Works spotlights innovative and replicable content, engagement and revenue initiatives at public radio and TV stations and nonprofit and digital news organizations in the U.S. LTW includes an annual contest and a database (below). LTW produces webinars that offer insights into projects and organizations that are reshaping local civic journalism.

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The Accountability Project

Connecticut Public Broadcasting
Joint Licensee
Walter Smith Randolph

In 2019, Connecticut Public’s new senior leadership team started on a mission to fill the gap of local commercial media. With newspapers dwindling and trust in media eroding, Chief Executive Officer Mark Contreras and Chief Content Officer Tim Rasmussen came up with a plan to help win back trust and produce hard-hitting content in Connecticut. The Accountability Project is a three-person watchdog reporting team that takes a deep dive into things that matter to Nutmegers.

Contreras and Rasmussen were able to launch The Accountability Project by hiring an investigator editor, investigative reporter and data reporter. They fundraised by campaigning loyal funders, dedicated listeners and applying for grants. The idea was first pitched in July 2019. The Accountability Team launched in July 2021. It took two years to find the funding and the right people to tell the stories that matter in Connecticut. Even before the team was fully launched, an investigative report on a police-involved shooting produced by senior reporters was honored with and Edward R. Murrow award. The report showed what CT Public is a capable of—even without a dedicated investigative reporting team.

In the seven short weeks that the team has been fully producing stories, The Accountability Project has made waves. They uncovered emails that show the ouster of the president of the University of Connecticut was over a failed fundraising project. In another report, the team uncovered that New Haven’s airport authority took a loan from the same company angling for a 32-year lease to run the airport. Now, politicians are questioning if it’s a good deal. Another story broke the news that hundreds of UConn students asked for vaccine exemptions. The day after CT Public broke the story, it led the local tv affiliates newscasts. The team has also been providing facts checks on the issue of the summer in Connecticut---juvenile car thefts. Democrats say check the data while Republicans insist there more to the story. The Accountability Team is doing just that—checking data, digging beyond the surface and helping daily reporters with deeper stories and they’re just getting started.
The impact is being felt by listeners who are sending in tips through the newly created tips email. Daily, listeners come up with new ideas or express their appreciation for the current work. Even our competitors are taking notice by complimenting the stories and our partners are co-publishing our work as well.

The project has generated $2 million which will be used to pay the salaries and cover all costs for the five-year project. Fundraising is ongoing as CT Public would like to continue the project beyond its current five-year term. Funding comes from listener drivers, grants and through faithful donors.