CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, the original version of this story incorrectly stated that the organization’s first executive producer, Monty Cook, resigned in the spring of 2010. He resigned in November 2010. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
As the Reese Felts Digital News Project celebrated its one-year anniversary Tuesday, the leaders of the website said they are continuing to redefine content and seeking new sources of revenue.
Reese News — an experimental newsgathering organization within the School of Journalism and Mass Communication — is the product of a $4.1 million grant from Reese Felts, an alumnus of the school.
Eliza Kern, managing editor of Reese News, said the site has garnered 112,554 page views since its launch and that the group hopes to continue creating innovative digital content.
“The cool thing is we are still only a year old,” Kern said.
“We’re still determining coverage, and we’re willing to look outside of Chapel Hill for stories.”
In November of 2010, the first executive producer, Monty Cook, resigned amid allegations of inappropriate behavior with a Reese News student employee.
An interim producer filled the position until July 2011, when John Clark left WRAL.com to become the full-time executive producer.
“It was a rocky start to the project,” Clark said. “What we’re doing has the school’s best interest in mind.”
Clark said the organization is looking for alternative ways to fund the site to prepare for when the grant runs out.
He said much of the grant was spent on start-up expenses, like outfitting the newsroom and buying technology.
Clark said future funding will become a larger concern later on.
“I’m not interested in putting a traditional model for ads on Reese News — I’d rather experiment,” Clark said. “As we get into next semester, funding will be a piece to explore.”
Currently Reese News’ largest expense is paying staff members, Clark said. Kern said the organization has 10 to 15 full-time employees.
Kern said she is looking to expand public affairs reporting and explore topics in greater depth while taking advantage of the technology available through the journalism school.
Jarrard Cole, director of news for Reese News, said the site will cover the upcoming town council election by working with a journalism school class to give live updates throughout the night.
They are aiming to have reporters at candidate parties and working in advance to create an online graphic to explain election results, he said.
“What the site has been doing is focusing our energy towards coverage that we think we can do better or in a different way,” Cole said.
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