Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of Foothills Forum?
Foothills has one overarching goal: journalism that is authoritative, fair, independent, nonpartisan and of service to our community.
How do we know that Foothills Forum is independent of outside individuals or groups?
From its start Foothills has committed to maximum transparency in its work. Foothills’ website discloses its volunteer board of directors, its financial donors, governmental filings, and its working agreement with the Rappahannock News. The board meetings of the Forum are open to the public.
How does Foothill Forum decide what to the write about?
Our aim is to report on matters of importance to the community. We are guided partly by the initial Foothills survey conducted by UVa in 2014-15. In addition, our reporters keep their ears close to the ground, as do members of Foothills’ board of directors. We also have a Research & Journalism Committee composed of supporters – many with journalism backgrounds – who meet periodically to provide guidance on topics and issues.
How does a reader know that Foothills Forum is responsible for a story in the Rappahannock News?
Foothills reporters are identified with bylines in the paper that make clear their association with the nonprofit. In addition, often when Foothills contributes to the newspaper a long or prominent article or feature, the newspaper will publish a separate statement that explains Foothills and its role.
Where do Foothills’ journalists come from? Are they paid?
Our reporters – many with long ties to Rappahannock – are professional, experienced journalists who have worked for prominent news organizations. They are either paid by the story or are on modest retainers. Foothills also helps pay for a graphics designer and a photographer.
Who edits the stories?
Editing Foothills’ stories is a highly collaborative effort involving Foothills’ experienced volunteers, its reporters, and Rappahannock News staff.
Is the Rappahannock News required to use stories that Foothills Forum produces?
No. The newspaper always makes its own decisions about what it publishes. The Forum’s stories appear in the News under a legal agreement stipulating that the newspaper is not obligated to publish them.
Is Foothills unique, or are there other nonprofit journalism outfits like it?
Foothills is part of a large and growing nonprofit journalism movement of so-called “community news organizations.” These independent, nonprofit groups fill the void left by local newspapers that have either disappeared or are greatly diminished. Foothills is distinct in that we exist to supplement an existing newspaper. Most other community news organizations serve to replace local news organizations that have been lost.