Cox Institute and NPPA spearhead resource effort for independent journalists

Professor Keith Herndon, director of the Cox Institute, and independent journalist Bob Sullivan announce the creation of the Independent Journalist Resource Coalition during a talk in Athens, Georgia, on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. (Photo/Mark E. Johnson,

A working group called the Independent Journalists Resource Coalition (IJRC) was launched today at the University of Georgia as part of an effort to bring new training and support to a growing number of journalists who work independently.

The James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and the National Press Photographers Association, also headquartered at Grady, are spearheading the initiative, which plans to build an online clearinghouse of training and support services and offer in-person training for journalists working as freelancers and contractors.

“Now more than ever, Americans need to get their news from a variety of places with a variety of voices — but as newsrooms shrink, the number of voices is dwindling, fast. It’s an existential threat to our democracy,” said Bob Sullivan, an award-winning independent journalist who is leading the IJRC initiative as a member of the Cox Institute’s advisory board. “In this chaotic environment, independent journalists can be an essential part of the solution, but we must find a way to provide them with the tools and protections afforded reporters at large media organizations.”

The IRJC will leverage existing training platforms including the NPPA’s Business Practices Resources, which features tools such as the Cost of Doing Business Calculator.

“Visual Journalism is changing rapidly — from technology to business practices — and if you want to compete and succeed today you need to stay educated, informed and current,” said NPPA President Melissa Lyttle, an independent photojournalist. “This has the potential to be a huge resource, and furthermore shows the NPPA’s continued commitment to helping independent visual journalists.”

The IJRC also plans to partner with the Small Business Development Center, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach, and will work directly with Area Director Laura Katz to craft business training programs specific to the needs of independent journalists. The IJRC will work with the Atlanta Press Club to test initial training and gain feedback from its independent members prior to a broader program launch.

Freelance and contract journalists face a myriad of issues in the content marketplace including negotiating fair compensation, acquiring legal aid and finding affordable technology services.  Operating as an independent journalist essentially means running a small business, but many journalists don’t have the background and skills necessary to thrive in that environment.  The IRJC intends to work with this community of journalists to identify their most pressing needs and find ways to address them through training and other service offerings.

The initial work of the IRJC is supported through a donation from Adam Levin, a New York-based consumer advocate and author. Organizations interested in joining or supporting the IRJC are encouraged to contact Keith Herndon, director of the Cox Institute, at


About the NPPA

For more than 70 years, the National Press Photographers Association has focused on education and advocacy for visual journalists. The NPPA vigorously promotes freedom of the press in all its forms, working to protect the First Amendment, as well as visual journalists’ rights to earn a living from their work. Through regional and national education events, the NPPA pushes forward the values enshrined in its Code of Ethics and helps prepare staff and independent visual journalists to succeed in challenging environments. The NPPA recognizes the best work in photojournalism through its annual Best of Photojournalism competition, along with monthly clip contests for multimedia and still photojournalism and quarterly contests for television, picture editing and student work. NPPA is the voice for visual journalists.

About the UGA Small Business Development Center

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provides tools, training and resources to help small businesses grow and succeed. Designated as one of Georgia’s top providers of small business assistance, the SBDC has 17 offices ranging from Rome to Valdosta to serve the needs of Georgia’s business community. Since 1977, our network of partners has helped construct a statewide ecosystem to foster the spirit, support, and success of hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs and innovators. The SBDC, a Public Service and Outreach Extension of UGA, is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs.

About the Atlanta Press Club

The Atlanta Press Club has grown to become one of the largest and most dynamic professional journalism associations in the country. Our membership encompasses Atlanta’s burgeoning media community — print, broadcast and online, big and small, national and local media outlets. Over half of our 500-plus members are working journalists. The balance is public relations professionals, educators, retirees and students. Its mission is to serve the evolving professional, educational and social needs of our media community, foster journalistic excellence and advance the public’s interest in and understanding of a free press.