Mission

The Center for Independent Media is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that fosters diversity of ideas in the national debate by educating and training people on the use of new communications technologies like the Internet as an alternative publishing and distribution system to traditional broadcast and print media. The center brings talented and diverse voices and ideas to the fore of our nation’s discourse, through its training programs, conferences, research and publishing operations. Programs emphasize the importance of citizen-driven journalism as a critical founding principle of our nation, the positive role of democratically elected government in securing the common good and social welfare, and the continuing benefits of our founding culture of egalitarian government by the people, for the people.

What We Do

The Center for Independent Media is designed to enhance the stability of independent media by working with online journalists and blogs to support their ability to inform public debate through journalism that adheres to the highest standards of the profession. To accomplish this goal, the center operates two program areas:

  • The New Journalist Training Program: Providing skills training and mentoring to bloggers and online journalists, state by state, this program aims to create a robust corps of individuals who can systematically report on issues critical to their communities, while adhering to the highest standards of professional journalism.
  • The New Journalist Editorial Program: Designed to pick up where the training program leaves off, the New Journalist editorial program provides talented online journalists with direct support to conduct original reporting. The majority are graduates of the training program.

Organization History

The Center for Independent Media was founded on May 1, 2006, as a nonpartisan nonprofit organization. The center created the New Journalist Pilot Program to test the hypothesis that a melding of blog technology with the standards of professional journalism could produce original news and information, which in turn would contribute to diversifying public debate around issues of importance.

The New Journalist Pilot Program operated in two states — Colorado and Minnesota. Seventeen people participated in the program, collectively producing more than 2,200 original reports from July through October. A significant number of these reports triggered statewide and national attention, by drawing attention to important issues through the production of news that adhered to the standards of professional journalism. Approximately 29 million Americans were reached through the program, online and offline via television, radio, and newspapers picking up stories originated by CIM Fellows in the program.

Based on the successful performance of the New Journalist Pilot Program, a decision was made to expand operations and increase the number of programs. In May 2007, the CIM launched its third program, in Iowa. In September 2007, the center will launch its fourth program, in Michigan. A national program, based in Washington, D.C., is scheduled to launch in fall 2007.

Staff

David S. Bennahum, President & CEO
davidsmall.jpgDavid is a former journalist and leading new media strategist, beginning with his role as a founding writer with Wired magazine in 1994, and a business career that included guiding online strategy for several Fortune 500 corporations and partnership in a New York-based private equity fund that invested in next generation wireless mobile services.

David was founding writer and contributing editor with Wired magazine, and the author of “Extra Life: Coming of Age in Cyberspace” (Basic Books; 1998). His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times, The Economist, New York magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, Lingua Franca, Slate and Spin. David has also commented on technology and business related issues for The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, ABC News with Peter Jennings, CBS News with Dan Rather, and has appeared on “Politically Incorrect,” MTV, and “The O’Reilly Report” on FOX. He is currently writing his next book, titled “Fair Play” (Gotham Books), which traces the evolution of the concept of team sports in modern democratic society.

In 2000 David founded and launched New Things LLC, a New York-based private equity group focused on financing the next generation of wireless media and software services. During David’s tenure as a partner with New Things, the fund’s portfolio of companies reached profitability. Before founding New Things, David served as executive vice president of APL Digital, the interactive division of Ammirati Puris Lintas, one of the world’s largest advertising agencies with 1999 billings of $8 billion. David began his career in business as an analyst with McKinsey & Co. He is a 1990 graduate of Harvard College University, magna cum laude.

Robin Marty, Deputy Program Director
robin_headshot.jpg Robin Marty comes to the CIM with a background in marketing, have worked in public relations and corporate communications for career services, the hospitality industry and investment banking. Previously hired on as the state coordinator for Minnesota Monitor, Robin currently has assisted in the opening of multiple CIM states and has been heavily involved in the recruiting and mentoring of new state coordinators. Robin has been blogging since 2004, when she started The Power Liberal, which she currently runs with her husband, Steve, and is the Minneapolis city coordinator for Drinking Liberally, a progressive group with more than 160 chapters.

Christina J. Miller, Development Associate
cm.jpg Christina Jane Miller is a graduate of Trinity University with a degree in political science. She was born and raised in South Florida, where she was heavily involved in volunteerism. Most notably, she assisted in the development of America’s Promise for Youth in South Florida. In 2004, Christina moved to Washington, D.C., to complete advanced political science coursework at American University. She has served as vice president of a small political consulting firm in Washington, D.C., worked in the broadcasting world, as well as on Capitol Hill for the U.S. House of Representatives. Christina’s CIM duties as development associate include office management and fundraising.

Jefferson Morley, Editorial Director
IMG_7102_2_2.jpg Jefferson Morley is a veteran Washington journalist whose provocative reporting and commentary on the international media, the Central Intelligence Agency, the war on drugs, rock music, George H.W. Bush, Central American death squads, the Iran-contra affair, and other national issues have been published widely over the past 25 years.

A former Washington correspondent for The Nation and Spin. Morley worked as an editor in the Sunday Outlook section of the Washington Post from 1992 to 1996. He became the world news editor of washingtonpost.com in 2000, with responsibility for updating coverage and creating some of the site’s first online video reports. From 2002 to 2006 he wrote the World Opinion Roundup column/blog for washingtonpost.com, analyzing commentary about the United States in the international press.

He is the author a forthcoming biography of Winston Scott, the CIA’s top man in Mexico in the 1960s, to be published by the University Press of Kansas in the spring 2008.

He is married to Teresa Arene, a social worker. He has two sons Anthony, 20, and Diego, 13. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Wendy Norris, Partnerships Manager
Norris.jpgWendy Norris joined CIM with an eclectic background in social work, public relations and fundraising with a short stint as a phlebotomist in a medium security prison. An Ohio native, Wendy has been involved in political campaigns up and down the ticket beginning at the tender age of nine for George McGovern’s 1972 presidential bid. She began blogging in 2003 at a variety of progressive sites and founded the public policy group blog, Unbossed, to provide smart analysis and original investigative reporting with an emphasis on public policy. Wendy manages national partnerships for CIM and serves as the managing editor of Colorado Confidential.

Alexandra Savino, National Program Director
savino_ali_final_2.jpgAlexandra Savino is a graduate of Cornell University, with a bachelor’s of engineering in computer science and a master’s degree with a focus on computer security. She had held programming positions with companies such as Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Strategic Forecasting and Netegrity. In 2003, Alexandra left the software world for the Howard Dean campaign, where she worked on several projects in research, political and field. Following the Dean campaign, she has worked on an assorted array of campaigns in various positions including grassroots organizer, Internet director, field director and Internet consultant. She has worked in numerous states such as Iowa, South Carolina and New Jersey.

Mentors, Current and Past

  • Rowena Alegría, veteran of the Denver Post newsroom and current editor at the Spanish language weekly Viva Colorado; she is a communications consultant with her own company, Alegría Communications.
  • Roger Buoen, former deputy managing editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
  • Jim Boyd, former deputy editorial page editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune for 25 years; former Nieman fellow at Harvard University, and winner of the 2005 media award from the American Academy of Diplomacy.
  • Tony Collings, former CNN Washington and foreign correspondent, former Newsweek London bureau chief, and current lecturer in communication studies at the University of Michigan.
  • Steve Doig, Knight Chair in Journalism at Arizona State University, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for his work at the Miami Herald.
  • Sandra Fish, instructor at Colorado University’s journalism school at Boulder.
  • Alan Fisk, former assistant city editor and investigative projects editor, the Detroit News, currently an instructor at Oakland University’s School of Journalism.
  • Kay Jarvis, former deputy managing editor, the Denver Post.
  • Bill Maurer, former managing editor of the Des Moines Register and Tribune and current editor of DSM, a culture magazine for the Des Moines metro area.
  • Mark Neuzil, associate professor of journalism and mass communication and environmental studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.
  • Herb Strentz, professor emeritus and former dean, Drake University School of Journalism in Iowa.