No news is good news … unless you’re Our York Media.
And after making a pitch during the annual YorIt Social Venture Challenge last night to share only York County’s good-news stories, the couple behind the all-digital media company has some good news of their own to share: They won $20,000.
“We’ve worked really hard,” said Rebecca Hanlon, president of Our York Media, swiping away tears after she and her husband, Will, were named the competition’s winners at the Warehaus.
The Hanlons are both former employees of the York Daily Record and saw changes throughout the journalism industry on both a local and national scale – budget and staff cuts – and felt like news coverage wasn’t what it used to be and community-focused articles were often left behind.
Last summer, the husband-and-wife team launched a series of profiles on community members called Neighbors of Our York. The company also publishes stories sponsored by businesses or organizations that have paid to have their stories told on their website. All paid content is marked as such.
“It was an opportunity to tell the stories of our everyday people in our community,” Rebecca said. “From community activists to community responders and just everyday people who maybe aren’t doing things that would make traditional headlines, but in their own way, they’re contributing to York’s narrative.”
Together with some other fellow former journalists who freelance as photographers, videographers and authors, the Hanlons plan to use their winnings to expand their community coverage and offer a platform to local businesses and organizations to share stories that may not be covered by traditional media outlets.
YorIt, an initiative of the York County Community Foundation, is a local membership group aimed at developing leaders of philanthropy and investing in social venture projects that foster growth and make York County better. Members play an active role in the grant-making process by making connections, soliciting ideas, and interviewing applicants, all culminating in a live pitch event where members vote on the project that means the most to them.
“More fun, more vital and that’s what YorIt is all about,” said Jane Conover, president and CEO of York County Community Foundation. “We’re really here to create a vibrant York City.”
New to this year’s event was the ability for people to vote live – at $1 a vote – for the finalists of their choice. The winner of the community cash prize of more than $4,500 was York Swings!, a group aimed at making York a destination through promotion of swing dancing. It plans to host a series of quarterly events at the Valencia Ballroom.
Past recipients have included Pedi Cabs of York, Working Class York, The Parliament Arts Association and Taste Test, a pop-up restaurant series.