Cleveland MESH


(Cleveland MESH)


The Cleveland Media Ecosystem Support Hub (MESH) will strengthen existing community media serving Cleveland’s neighborhoods, foster new media outlets in underserved neighborhoods, provide funding and expertise to overcome community media project obstacles, and build networks of assistance and collaboration between independent media outlets in Cleveland, Ohio.


A Pew Research study conducted from 2016 to 2017 found that “Americans express only a moderate trust in most news source types,” but the study revealed an increasing number of respondents trust information from their own, local news organization.  This increase outpaced trust of information from sources of national news, friends, and family.  Unfortunately, many in Cleveland, Ohio, rarely receive information about their community from their community.  These are communities the thinly-stretched Plain Dealer has cut the capacity to cover.  These are also communities with too few resources to sustain their own community media outlets, which closed decades ago.  Where trusted community media outlets exist, they are struggling or closing just as research is beginning to show the degree to which they are needed by their communities.  They have varying degrees of difficulty producing uniquely community content, upgrading equipment and technology, keeping up with current media trends, and hiring staff.  Community media deserts stretch Cleveland communities that have languished without their own voice for decades, leaving clusters of communities underserved and underreported.


  • Establish college internships in support of community media outlet general operation, content expansion, and research
  • Support community media outlet website, social media, online video, mobile app, and emerging platform upgrades as needed
  • Develop networks that support and sustain Cleveland’s diverse ecosystem of community media


  • To foster, rescue, update, repurpose, and restore Cleveland community media outlets in every Cleveland community, trusted by their communities to defend shared interests
  • To train the next generation of community media producers to maintain Cleveland’s diverse constellation of outlets for community information
  • To build a more collaborative, stronger, diverse ecosystem of media outlets for more informed, empowered, and active communities


Neighborhood Media Foundation is approaching like-minded partners for funding because Cleveland MESH is designed to facilitate the stated goal of multiple local foundations to support local media ecosystem repair.  This program will employ thoughtful, curated community journalism to promote informed communities that may better defend their own interests.  Cleveland MESH aligns with national trends in Foundation strategies for advancing the practice of journalism, repairing community trust in local reporting, employing new technologies, championing the First Amendment, and transforming news organizations innovating in the digital age to advance journalism and inform communities.


Associate Director Rich Weiss brings 17 years of deep relationships with Greater Cleveland’s fiercely independent grassroots media outlets, each bonded to their own tight-knit, hard-to-reach residents.  Founder and current VP of the Neighborhood & Community Media Association of Greater Cleveland (NCMA-CLE), Weiss has also published a micro-local media outlet by and for the Tremont neighborhood, The Tremonster, since 2011.

Cleveland MESH is well-timed to fill an emergency need in Northeast Ohio to employ the grassroots connectivity of existing and new community media outlets to unearth and disseminate the community-centered information legacy media has lost the situational awareness to cover.


  • To address the risk of Cleveland community media outlets rejecting the need to participate, Neighborhood Media Foundation originally convened a meeting of community media outlets that unanimously agreed to work together with Cleveland MESH toward shared goals.
  • To address the risk of Cleveland advertiser rejection of Cleveland MESH outlets as a vehicle to reach customers, Neighborhood Media Foundation will approach advertisers with institutional partners and supporting studies.
  • To address the risk of Cleveland community members rejecting Cleveland MESH outlets, Neighborhood Media Foundation will employ best practices and leading technologies to attract the attention of community members and earn their trust.


What key indicators will you and the grantee track to assess progress, challenges, and possible course corrections? (up to three bullets)

  • Cleveland MESH will track the number of Cleveland’s community media outlets.
  • Cleveland MESH will track the amount of advertising and grant support in Cleveland’s community media outlets.
  • Cleveland MESH will track the circulation of Cleveland’s community media outlets.


In pursuit of project goals Cleveland MESH will take the below steps to achieve several specific objectives.

  1. Secure the best-positioned Cleveland MESH Director
  • Analyze and map Cleveland community media coverage, overlap, and gaps
  • Approach Cleveland’s existing community media outlets, producers, and associations to propose cooperative efforts
  • Interview Cleveland community media outlets to determine immediate needs, strengths, obstacles, capacity, and predisposition to working cooperatively with other outlets
  • Interview local community development organizations and charitable organizations to determine the need for (and their predisposition to support) the development of new and existing community media as a means to achieve their goals
  • Recruit community media operators through community media gap-area canvassing, block and street clubs, and community development organization recommendations
  • Recruit area university students focused on urban studies, communication, graphic design, business, sales, and journalism to fill Cleveland MESH student internship positions according to the needs of Cleveland community media outlets
  • Encourage community media outlet collaborations on vital issues of import to multiple Cleveland-area communities
  • Promote resulting community media outlet collaborations across partner platforms
  1. Launch a Cleveland MESH fundraising campaign leveraging new research, major program partners, and community media outlet operators to request support from individuals, corporations, foundations, and government, to overcome a list of obstacles for community media outlets
  1. Invest in expertise and funds where needed by community media outlets, ongoing
  1. Assess Cleveland community media outlets for modern platform capacity and positioning for future media trends and youth audience engagement, and make needed adjustments
  1. Launch group advertising campaigns for 2025 leveraging new research, major program partners, and community media outlet operators
  1. Submit multi-year funding requests to expand demonstrated pilot project success, and to support the replication of our community media network development, elsewhere

Comments are closed.