PRISM #67: Are you sitting down? We have some big news.

Generosity is nothing else than a craze to possess. All which I abandon, all which I give, I enjoy in a higher manner through the fact that I give it away. To give is to enjoy possessively the object which one gives.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre
A ground nesting native bird, the bobolink. Find out more from Jonah Keane of Mass Audubon on the Cornbread Cafe. Yeah it’s a music show, but it’ll all make sense, trust me; photo courtesy Mass Audubon.
A ground nesting native bird, the bobolink. Find out more from Jonah Keane of Mass Audubon on the Cornbread Cafe. Yeah it’s a music show, but it’ll all make sense, trust me. Photo courtesy Mass Audubon.

🎧 The Cornbread Cafe #12 — Listen Free.
Another American Roots festival in Western Mass!
We celebrate the first inaugural Arcadia Folk Festival with mighty tunes from Laura Berman, Faint Peter, Divining Rod, Birds of Chicago, Darlingside, Heather Maloney, The Nields, and Celine Schmink.
Congratulations to Al Timpane! He scored two tickets to Misty Blues Sept. 28 at Jiminy Peak with his Zen-like #CureForTheBlues that boils down to “Change My Mind.” Why do I always forget that method?
Wazzup, Greylock Nation—

Have you ever gotten a piece of good news that was so great, you felt kind of swoony every time you thought about it, even the next day? We just did. Actually, two pieces.

If you read the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Columbia Journalism Review, or many other titles, by now you’ve probably heard about the Civil Media Company. Civil is the journalism start-up with a mission to restore credibility to the news, circumvent censorship by authoritarian regimes, and create a clear path to financial sustainability for fledgling news organizations or outlets decimated by declining ad revenues and subscriptions.

Powered by blockchain technology and crypto economics, Civil has already launched a small constellation of Civil Newsrooms—independent news outlets that pledge to adhere to stringent standards of ethical journalism. By doing so, these newsrooms will gain access to many of the resources that a well-funded, well-organized media company like Civil can provide.
Vivian Schiller, former CEO at National Public Radio, was named CEO of the Civil Foundation, the nonprofit created to oversee the platform and promote its standards of journalism, earlier this summer. This month, after an editorial review process, the foundation selected a small handful of local news organizations from across the journalism sector internationally to include in the second group of official Civil Newsrooms.

The Greylock Glass — yourGreylock Glass — has been accepted into this collection of news agencies. Additionally, we have been awarded a grant of 2,000 CVL tokens to pay, in part, for our “stake” on the platform.

I just learned this by e-mail less than 48 hours ago, and I’m still trying to absorb what this all means. I am humbled at Civil’s confidence in our work. I feel a strong sense of validation in the vision of the Greylock Glass—though, if I needed excessive external validation to keep this project going, I don’t know that we’d still be having this conversation  ;  ) . Mostly, I’m in a state of shock and disbelief that our reporting will join that of journalists from publications like The New Yorker, LA Times, BBC, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, Gawker, and DNAinfo in this exciting evolution in journalism.

Among the initial organizations participating in this network are the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), the European Journalism Centre, the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the News Co/Lab at Arizona State University. The Associated Press is on board as a major supporter and is creating a process by which Civil Newsrooms can license its content through special arrangement.

I really encourage you to read more about Civil, especially in this article at the NYT and this piece in the WSJ. You’ll understand why I’m still reeling (in a good way) from the acceptance letter I received. Longform in the CJR here.

The other piece of great news I received is in the same vein, but more about our ability to reach a broader audience. The Greylock Glass has been accepted as an Apple News Publisher. If you’re not on an iOS device, you have no reason to know what that means, but if you have an iPhone or iPad, you’ve probably checked out the Apple News app. Again, I had to submit an application, which initiated an editorial review process for the Glass to be considered.

So many people are getting their news via their phones these days, I thought it was worth a shot, so I threw my hat in the ring and waited. I’d just about given up, too, but last month, I received notification from Apple that I could begin publishing on that platform, which I’ve been doing quietly for a couple of weeks. I’ve been working some of the kinks out and am now pleased to announce that, if your device can run Apple News, you can add the Greylock Glass to your list of favorites.

One of the side benefits that the Berkshires will enjoy is that Apple News is a major way audiences the world over can find out about the amazing people, organizations, and events in the Berkshires that we report on every week in the Glass. In other words, Apple News will signal boost information about our local businesses, arts, food, etc., to a global audience of potential visitors to the region. Get it? So while you’re on Apple News, be sure to hit that share button and spread some Berkshires love with the rest of the planet.

Our local focus is the main reason that the Glass was accepted as a Civil Newsroom. That focus needs to be intensified. I am now actively looking for part-time staff writers to report on North County stories that aren’t being covered elsewhere in ways that show how powerful, relevant, or consequential the issues are to the real people involved. An obvious result of this change is that you’re going to see much more text-based journalism on the site in addition to our podcasts.

A core tenet of Civil is that editorial independence is best maintained when news consumers pay for the journalism they enjoy. Of course, the Greylock Glass has NEVER installed data-harvesting, web-tracking ad systems, nor have we resorted to partnering with sleazy companies that place “recommended articles” in the sidebar or at the bottom of the page with click-bait headlines (which also typically harvest your data and track your every move online). We have only ever accepted static ads from local companies and organizations with whom we are proud to be associated. Still, as more and more people use ad-blockers, the writing on the wall regarding the future of this journalism revenue model becomes increasingly clear. And that will probably be a good thing in the end. The Press can never be truly “free and independent” if it always has to worry about offending the advertisers.

So, now that you’ve heard this spate of good news, tell me: aren’t you proud that the Berkshires is home to one of very few local news outlets to be accepted into this second wave of Civil Newsrooms?! That an outfit you’ve been following since its days as a scrappy startup is in the vanguard of technological innovation that will democratize journalism more than any other development in recent memory? Okay…we’re still a scrappy startup, but not. for. long.

Although I will continue to host some of the podcasts, and will do as much writing as I can, my role will necessarily pivot to more closely resemble that of a traditional publisher at the same time I seek to add a much wider diversity of voices to our pages and podcasts. The role of the publisher, as those of you who’ve been in the news biz know, is to make sure the organization is financially solvent and can weather any economic, political, or social storm.

To that end, I will be unabashedly soliciting support from all corners, starting with this newsletter. As the rabid promoter of YOUR local news alternative, I’m going to make P. T. Barnum look timid by comparison. And I’m not going to stop until the Greylock Glass is the media powerhouse this region deserves.

I promised, when I started this thing, that I’d build it up into a news organization that told local stories in a way that no one else could match and that I’d create jobs. I took care of the first goal, with over three hundred podcast episodes and articles published in three years. It’s time for you to help me make the second objective a reality, too.

In the past, I’ve asked you to contribute $1 a month to show your support for the Glass. If that’s really all you can dig out of your couch cushions, we’ll still take it, but that’s not going to get us where we need to go. The Berkshires, particularly North County, has the chance RIGHT NOW to go from being a region that’s suffered a severe decline in news coverage to being a model of remarkable, community-driven journalistic wealth and ingenuity. We have the chance, together, to show the WORLD how it’s done.

I’m not going to compare your contribution to “the price of a cup of coffee” ever again. That actually cheapens your involvement in the critical democratic institution that a free press is. I want you to care about your news more than that. I want you to really pause for a minute and just ponder the resources it must have taken to achieve what the Glass already has to date. I’m not asking for tips, donations, or gifts. I’m telling you that a window of opportunity has opened that can dramatically improve the news scene around here, but that YOU have to invest in that future.

The way to do that is to become a member. Right now. Like, I don’t even care if you finish reading this newsletter if you’re already on board with this plan. If you come on at the $10 per month level, will you get $10 worth of news right out of the gate? Depends on how you value supporting your local news. The Greylock Glass can’t create the amount of content you get from Netflix for the same money, but then again, Netflix has 120 million subscribers…which, now that I think about it, shows what’s possible when everybody ponies up a little individually.

So I’m putting $10 per month out there as the standard membership level. Some of you will choose the $5 level and others will choose the $25 level. I’m hoping that one or a few of you will kick in at the $100 level. Ideally, I want every single one of you to become a member at some level. When you read the articles or listen to the shows, I want you to know that you made them possible. I want you to take pride in it.

The results, when your dollars start flowing in, will be transformative, immediate, and visible. For starters, you’ll start seeing other people’s bylines on articles and shows. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? People have implied (rather bitingly, at times, I must say…) that I must love to hear myself talk. I don’t actually. But that’s not the point. This has never been about Jason. The Greylock Glass has only ever been about creating a sustainable media company that wasn’t dependent on shifty ad revenue or on the whims and generosity of millionaires. I knew that it’d be a steep uphill climb for awhile. It’s tested my resolve, strained my resources, and threatened my sanity just a little bit since I started out on this journey.

Last year around this time, our news delivery model was so unique that the trade group Local Independent Online News Publishers paid me to speak at their annual conference in Chicago to give other online newspapers an idea of how to incorporate podcasts into their offerings (I’m still grateful to those of you who contributed to my airfare then. You rock.) Since then, another local news podcast site is getting off the ground in the Pacific Northwest, covering the Tacoma area. Fully two years after the Greylock Glass launched in 2015, the New York Times started its local news podcast.

In the last two years, major newspapers across the country have fallen prey to corporate parasites. A national television network was revealed to have forced journalists across the country to read identical editorial statements on air as if they were their own. Journalists here at home have been identified as the “enemy of the people,” and have been murdered and jailed at increasing rates abroad. How do you fight back against these alarming trends? You strengthen the independent press in your own neighborhood to protect your oasis of news freedom.

Right now, the Greylock Glass is poised to enter a phase of unprecedented growth. We’ve been building toward this for three and a half years. With your help, we can propel this online newsthing into the success that will prove the local news is still the most important tool for holding the powerful accountable, reflecting the lives of residents, and helping its audience engage in the community in meaningful ways.

Let’s make history together. Become a member right now.

You can become a member on the website

You can become a member through Patreon

Or you can send a lump sum via PayPal (requires PayPal account)

However you choose to contribute, I thank you for deciding to become a real partner in this thrilling new chapter of the Berkshires’ mightiest independent alternative media thing.

Stay safe, be good to each other, and go easy on yourselves.

Yours —

Jason Velázquez
editor, the Greylock Glass

Jason Velázquez

Jason Velázquez has worked in print and digital journalism and publishing for two decades.
Phone: (413) 776-5125

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