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Keeping the fire going
Reflections on the first day of winter
As I sit by my modest wood burning stove on the winter solstice, the warmth I feel stretches to the deepest trenches of my heart.
These logs can only claim partial credit. The truth is, it’s you.
It’s a hard road. And I do feel the cold. I do feel the pulls of a cushy 9 to 5 with benefits and less heartache. I definitely feel the despair of working to repair an industry that still profits from society’s brokenness. The uphill battle of proving my worth, our network’s worth, and the worth of others to our neighbors, and the rest of the world.
Then I connect with another warm heart and feel hopeful again.
Thank you to everyone who allowed us to share their story in 2022, who turned to us and trusted us to amplify their voice. Who cared enough about our work to take a moment and take it in. These stories include:
The previously underreported perspective of April Wilkens, who is currently serving a life sentence for killing her abuser during an attack
VNN’s experience on “The Blox” a live-in competition for entrepreneurs (in which VNN won 3rd place!)
The results of our inaugural community learning series “From Adversity To Entrepreneurship”, which explored the benefits and barriers of self-employment for people who have experienced poverty, domestic abuse, and drug addiction
Spotlighting Allotment Era crime through our investigative series “Stealing Tvlse”, in partnership with Lucinda Hickory Research Institute
Additional projects in 2022 saw us becoming a Trusting News Outreach and Listening Partner. We spent eight weeks interviewing Indigenous people in Oklahoma to find out how they feel about the news industry and how we can improve it.
VNN Oklahoma also received our first award this year. First place in the 2021 Local Media Digital Innovation Awards Best Digital News Project category (750,000 monthly unique visitors and less) for our illustrated news story concept, highlighting the case of April Wilkens.
Thank you to each and every one of our media clients and news sponsors. Thank you for putting your trust in our multimedia expertise to take your brand to the next level. We literally could not tell these stories or provide any services without you. Your support keeps our Verified News dream alive. It also keeps me employed, allowing me to buy things like food, clothes, and Christmas presents for my son.
It allows us to continue to build VNN for journalists and news affiliates to share local news and resources that inform and empower our communities above all else. To continue to diversify our news ecosystem so that we accurately reflect real life and real lives.
Thank you to my fellow VNN Journalists Rachael Schuit in Michigan and Rocky Brown in New York. They have been and continue to be key builders of VNN’s social news media foundation, proving time and again the impact our network has in their own communities.
So, again, thank you to every member of our Verified News Community for 2022. From the bottom of my heart warmed soul to yours.
Warmest wishes for 2023,