Mississippi Today is pleased to announce the soft launch of our first sister newsroom, Verite, a Black-led, mission-driven newsroom, which is set to begin publishing in the fall. The New Orleans newsroom is the first step in plans for a network of local, independent newsrooms across the Southeast that center accountability and a community-first perspective.
Verite’s in-depth, data-based reporting will focus on solution-based coverage on crucial topics, such as education, housing, health care, criminal justice, the environment and politics — while centering the voices of communities that have been historically ignored and uplifting a region that has been left behind compared to similar national metropolitan areas.
“Local matters in the South, and we have searched high and low for the right local news leaders for our first expansion,” said Mississippi Today CEO Mary Margaret White. “I could not be more confident about the talent we have on board for New Orleans.”
Led by Executive Director David Francis (former EVP and publisher of NOLA.com|The Times-Picayune) and Editor-in-Chief Terry Baquet (former managing editor of Nola.com|The Times-Picayune) and Managing Editor Tim Morris (former political editor and columnist of The Times-Picayune), Verite aims to build a newsroom that’s founded on local trust, equity and a deeply rooted understanding of the vibrant cultures and information needs of the New Orleans metropolitan area.
“Black and brown journalists continue to be overlooked and underrepresented in the newsroom,” said David Francis, Verite Executive Director. “At Verite we want our newsroom to be a platform for the community as well as for hiring and elevating journalists that reflect the diversity of the community, appreciate the New Orleans culture and understand the needs and perspectives of the city.”
Through partnerships with HBCUs and other institutions, Verite will connect the dots between the classroom and their professional newsroom by offering internships, fellowships and mentorship for minority students training them to join the Verite mission. Recognizing that over 75% of newsroom employees are non-Hispanic whites, Verite’s investment will create a pipeline of talent across the country that can be shared and celebrated.
“When we set out to create Verite, we wanted to fix the relationship gap and invest in human potential to uplift the new generation of reporters, editors and communicators from under-served communities,” said Terry Baquet, Verite Editor-in-Chief. “Maintaining our commitment to training these new reporters will add to their experience and help provide viewpoints in other markets. This approach is a cornerstone of our vision and will result in aiding all news outlets to better serve the greater community.”
Verite has received a grant from The Ford Foundation which will specifically support editorial planning, recruitment and the hiring of a top-notch team of journalists. Verite is also the recipient of a planning grant from the American Journalism Project that will provide tailored support including, 1:1 guidance, capacity building resources, peer learning opportunities and other tools to strengthen Verite’s business and revenue operations.