A fresh spin on Madison's past and present

Madison Community Foundation partners with Madison365 to uncover and share Madison’s unique, untold stories.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

There are a lot of untold — and undertold — stories in Madison, about its past as much as its present, and a new project aims to shed light on those stories while providing some vital on-the-job experience to young journalists of color.

On Sept. 14, the Madison Community Foundation along with Madison365 launched “I Am Madison,” a paid internship program that offers young journalists of color the opportunity to engage and chronicle their communities through multimedia storytelling. This is the fifth major grant from Madison Community Foundation’s 75th anniversary Year of Giving.

Supported by an $82,000 grant from Madison Community Foundation, Madison365 — a nonprofit, free access, multimedia news and information platform for and by Madison’s communities of color — will publish 75 stories from Madison’s history. These stories will be produced by Madison365 Academy student journalists, recent Madison365 academy graduates, and other young contributors as part of the training and mentoring program aimed at diversifying the media and increasing job opportunities in media and communications careers for students of color.

“Nationwide, the American Society of Newspaper Editors says newsroom staff is about 12% nonwhite,” notes Rob Chappell, associate publisher of Madison365. “In Madison, and in many cities like Madison, it’s much lower than that. Before Madison365 started, it was about 1% of the full-time print and online media, and maybe 3% or 4% if you expanded to count television reporters and anchors. The bottom line is young people of color very rarely see themselves in the local news media, so it just doesn’t seem like an option as a career. There are no real role models, no space to even try it out, so we’re creating that space. Furthermore, we’ve heard from newsroom editors that they want to hire more diverse journalists but don’t know where to find them, so we are very intentionally creating a talent pool for those editors to draw from.”

Chappell says the Madison365 student journalists will certainly tell some stories that have already been told, but “we’ll tell them from our specific perspective, which is important. But beyond that, we will be digging into some stories from historical minority neighborhoods like Greenbush, and profiling some really influential and important people of color who you’ve probably never heard of. We might uncover some uncomfortable facts from the early days of this city and its relationship with people of color, with [hate] groups like the Ku Klux Klan, and with Native Americans. We are also aware that the history of this city didn’t begin in 1848 — there were people here for 12,000 years before that, and we will be telling some of their stories, as well.”



“The Community Foundation is thrilled to support Madison 365,” Madison Community Foundation President Bob Sorge says. “It has become a vital resource for news in our community, and is the perfect partner to expand our understanding of Madison’s rich history. I’m just as excited about the 26 paid internships this will provide students of color as I am about the 75 stories that will be uncovered, researched, and told.”

“Madison is a community rich in history, and a community that’s really proud of its history,” adds Henry Sanders, Madison365 publisher and CEO. “We’re excited to bring our unique perspective to that history. We’re also grateful to Madison Community Foundation for recognizing the importance of a fresh perspective on the story of this city we all love and for trusting us to tell this story. This grant will let us tell that story well, while helping us build a strong foundation for the next generation of storytellers, journalists, and media professionals.”

The “I Am Madison” stories are shared at madison365.org/IAmMadison.

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