Deep South Today, a networked hub of nonprofit newsrooms serving the most challenged region of the country, was born out of a shared belief in the inherent value of important local news reporting — robust, unfettered, nonpartisan — backed by a shared commitment to the essential role local journalism plays in a democracy.
What is needed now is a visionary leader passionate about the power of information, a CEO who can refine the strategy, garner the resources, and ensure the staffing, structure and capacity-enhancing services required to support the growing needs of a rapidly evolving operation.
As a nonprofit business entity, Deep South Today is in transition from a startup to an industry model. Entrepreneurial at heart, DST will remain a locally focused organization even as it develops regional systems and national resources.
The CEO of Deep South Today can expect to build and lead a hub with fairly classic components. Subsumed in “fundraising” is the need to develop a replicable revenue model supported through advertising.
While always respecting the editorial independence of the individual units, DST’s CEO will have both the opportunity and the mandate to develop appropriate wrap-around support, making sure the hub’s people, systems, services and funding align with the overall mission. To optimize the hub’s effectiveness, DST’s CEO must leverage data and digital resources to collective advantage while driving DST’s revenue strategy and its relationships with current and potential funders.
To help realize its ambitious mission, Deep South Today requires a proven leader with the creativity of an architect, the tenacity of a builder and the passion of an entrepreneur undaunted by the challenges ahead.
The backing of national philanthropic partners, individual donors and a growing readership will mitigate some of the shorter-term pressures of a true start-up. Nevertheless, the CEO must complement this foundation with the relationships and building infrastructure to ensure a sustainable enterprise worthy of the ambitious mission ahead.
For example, DST Engine is an innovative audience hub under development that will deploy advanced digital technology across the network newsrooms to support audience building, content accessibility and financial management. Such a system might be out of reach for an individual newsroom, but it will be essential for a strong and growing network.
While the focus and immediate audience for Deep South’s journalism is local, the appetite for equitable and accurate local news has traction nationally. Accordingly, the CEO must create or solidify relationships with a broad array of stakeholders across the country. Communications with such stakeholders—current and potential funders, civic and political leaders, program collaborators and the like—could easily take up half of the new executive’s capacity.
The CEO must reside within DST’s service footprint (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi or Tennessee), but the precise location is open to discussion. There are advantages to basing the CEO in either Jackson, MS, or New Orleans, but the Board is open to other considerations as well.
For potential consideration or to suggest a prospect, please email DeepSouth@BoardWalkConsulting.com or call Sam Pettway, Cynthia Moreland, or Michelle Hall at 404-BoardWalk (404-262-7392).
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