Newsday has launched its own digital community and toolbox created to foster research and conversation to shape the future of Long Island, New York. Dubbed nextLI, the project will allow the newspaper's editorial board to engage more deeply with the surrounding community.
“Our mission for over 77 years has always been to connect Long Islanders. This digital forum will allow those conversations to continue on a deeper level, while engaging a new platform,” Rita Ciolli, director of the nextLI project, said in a statement.
The nextLI project, launched in April, is managed by Newsday's opinion department, which is an independent entity from its news gathering operations, with input from an advisory board made up of Long Islanders.
Newsday said the move echoes engagement initiatives that are taking place at other publications around the nation. The publisher is confident that nextLI will help its opinion department grow from the traditional slate of editorials, commentary and letters to the editor to a future where editorial boards serve as the catalyst for community conversations that shape the debate.
“NextLI will be a resource for Long Islanders who are invested in the future of our region,” said Sam Guzik, Newsday Opinion's editor of platform and strategy. “We're excited to connect passionate folks from all of the communities that make up Long Island, and especially those whose voices haven't always been a part of the civic discourse.”
Newsday said that nextLI is essentially taking over the job of gathering and presenting regional data of importance to Long Island. That is a task that's been carried out by the Long Island Index for the past 15 years. The publisher said it is poised to carry on the tradition of producing and publishing high-caliber research and information that are essential to understanding Long Island's regional challenges, while creating an innovative digital platform for civic engagement.
The Long Island Index was a project championed by the Rauch Foundation, which last year began seeking new ownership of the Index, offering up to a $1.5 million charitable grant over three years to its successor. After reviewing more than 10 responses to proposal requests from interested parties, the Foundation selected Newsday's proposal and deemed it the most innovative and viable, Newsday said.
In addition to the above initiatives, Newsday said nextLI will provide a platform for Long Islanders to share stories about life in the region, to discuss the future and foster consensus around ways to make the region competitive, affordable and welcoming. All of the resources will be free to Long Islanders.
“On an island defined by fragmented communities, we want to encourage people to join us on this platform to help create a digital town hall because we live here too,” said Amanda Fiscina, research and digital production manager, Newsday Opinion.
The move comes on the heels of Newsday's February announcement that it would shift printing and distribution to The New York Times in a decision that resulted in job losses for more than 225 full-time staffers. Newsday also announced plans to relocate from its longtime rented offices in Melville to more modern offices in Long Island, although a new location has not yet been announced publicly.