Why the Local Media Association is partnering with The Tributary

The Local Media Association, a trade group of news organizations, announced it is partnering with The Tributary, offering $35,000 as well as coaching, assistance and a fiscal sponsorship agreement as The Tributary launches this year.

LMA’s CEO, Nancy Lane, said she believes The Tributary’s business model — a nonprofit news organization designed to collaborate with existing local media — can serve as an example for other communities.

The Tributary is about to begin the process of getting its own 501c3 status approved by the IRS, but in the meantime, LMA, through its foundation arm, has set up a way for people to start giving tax-deductible donations at givebutter.com/tributary. You can also send checks to the Local Media Foundation, with “The Tributary” on the memo line to P.O. Box 85015, Chicago, IL 60689-5015.

I’m excited to partner with LMA and share the lessons I’m learning as we build a healthy news organization in Jacksonville. This month, I’ve talked to people across the community, including potential media partners and funders, about the need for a nonprofit news organization focused on investigating Jacksonville’s problems with poverty, injustices and the imbalances of power.

Our goal is to raise enough money to begin hiring reporters by May with an official launch in August. We’re going to rely heavily on member donations and local philanthropy for our first year, and after our launch, we’ll have the opportunity to grow the newsroom with advertising revenue.

If you want to learn more about how to support us, you can send me a line at andrew.pantazi@jaxtrib.com.

Jacksonville continues to reduce its vaccine disparities

Duval County still faces disparities between Black and white vaccine uptake, but those disparities continue to shrink, with the area seeing the smallest disparities among the state’s largest counties.

A few months into the vaccination campaign, some highlights for Duval:

  • 73% of those 65+ are vaccinated

  • 15% of those 64-and-younger are vaccinated

  • 21% of total population are vaccinated

  • 20% of white population is vaccinated v. 12% of Black population

Duval's weekly vaccination rate (3% of pop in last week) is slower than Florida's (3.4%). We’re also seeing less growth as more and more of the vaccine becomes available than the state as a whole.

If you aren’t already, you need to be following WJXT’s investigative reporter Kelly Wiley on Twitter. Each day she’s tracking how many vaccines are going unused in Duval because of a lack of demand. Vaccine sites are reporting no lines throughout the day.

Early on, Gov. Ron DeSantis limited who could get the vaccine primarily by age, allowing those 65 and older to get the vaccine. At the time, it made sense to try to make the administration of a limited amount of vaccine as easy as possible, and checking someone’s age can be easier for vaccine administrators than checking if someone qualifies because of a job or medical condition. But now we have a *surplus* of vaccines and not enough demand, so the state must figure out what steps it takes to get more people taking the shot in Jacksonville.

We have a younger population than much of the rest of the state, so hopefully, demand will increase as the age restrictions continue to fall in Florida.

About 86 percent of Duval’s population is younger than 65, which is tied with Alachua for the fifth-highest in the state. Our total vaccination rate heavily depends on reducing the age limits and getting younger people vaccinated.

In Miami, 17% of those 64 & younger have been vaccinated, the highest after Alachua (Gainesville) & St. Johns (St. Augustine). Duval is the sixth-highest, with 15% of younger people vaccinated.

Florida overall has 14% of younger people vaccinated.

About 14% of Duval's vaccinations don't have a recorded race for those vaccinated versus 15% for Florida as a whole. Palm Beach continues to do very poorly at recording the race of those receiving the vaccine, with one in five doses going to someone with an unknown race.

Among the very young — which I’ll count as those 34 and younger — Alachua continues to be the only county with double-digit percentages vaccinated. I have to make an assumption that’s partly because their population of people who qualify based on professions or health conditions is younger than elsewhere, due to the University of Florida.

You can see more graphics here.

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In other news …

Last month, I detailed the many foibles of former Public Defender Matt Shirk. Since then, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously rejected a plea deal that would’ve suspended his license for six months.

Rejecting the deal could mean the high court wants to see a harsher punishment, including disbarment.

Supporting The Times-Union

The past few weeks, my former colleagues at The Florida Times-Union have been pushing their parent company to fill positions that have gone vacant.

Since the beginning of 2018, the Times-Union has lost two-thirds of its newsroom staff, and today it has just one journalist who is not white left. The newsroom union, which I used to be a part of, has asked readers to send letters in support of its demands for more staff.

Jacksonville needs more journalists. I hope Gannett recognizes that The Florida Times-Union does great work and needs more support. The stronger the Times-Union is the more other news organizations, including The Tributary, benefit as well.

All four of the living ex-mayors of Jacksonville signed their own letter showing support for journalism in Jacksonville.