A letter from the editor: Hoptown Chronicle website is up, nonprofit launches

Hoptown Chronicle, an independent, nonprofit news site in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, has launched. Founder and editor Jennifer P. Brown outlines the organization’s mission and what readers can expect for its future.

For the past several months I’ve been writing news stories about Hopkinsville while exploring how I could build an independent, online news publication with a hyperlocal focus on downtown and coverage of local government.

The project started in November 2018 with a simple platform. Late one evening, after reporting on an auction of several landmark properties owned by the Cayce family in Hopkinsville’s old business district, I created a Facebook page called Hoptown Central. 

Favorable reaction to the auction story, and more stories that followed, gave me confidence there was an audience for the journalism I wanted to publish for readers who see potential and meaning in the revival of our downtown.

I eventually changed the name to Hoptown Chronicle to better reflect the purpose of a news publication. And while the Facebook page was a good place to start and build a following, it had some obvious limitations. I couldn’t reach readers who don’t use social media, and I had little control over the presentation of stories, headlines and photographs. 

Jennifer P. Brown
Jennifer P. Brown (Photo by Kevin Hoffman)

Today that changes.

Hoptown Chronicle, as you can see, now has a website and a better way to connect with the community. 

This big step also coincides with announcing details of Hoptown Chronicle’s business model. 

This is an independent, nonprofit news site. Our goal is to provide public service journalism from the heart of Hopkinsville. 

As a nonprofit, Hoptown Chronicle’s primary purpose is to see the community thrive socially, culturally and economically. Our mission is to provide fact-based reporting that gives local people information they need to make good decisions about Hopkinsville. We’re going to cover what’s working, what’s not and what’s next in downtown. And we’re going to devote attention to local government, especially in areas that affect downtown business and development.

There’s more about Hoptown Chronicle’s mission, ethics and the nonprofit board we’ve established under the “About” menu item on the home page. 

My role as the founder and editor is to help shape Hoptown Chronicle through my institutional knowledge of the community and 30-plus years of experience in journalism. 

I like to think I’m working in the smallest newsroom in America because, for now, I’m the only local staff member in this operation. But I’ve had some big help creating Hoptown Chronicle – mainly from some former Kentucky New Era colleagues.

Julia Hunter, who was a reporter and news editor at the local paper when I was the editor, is largely responsible for building this website and for helping me see how a nonprofit model could work for Hoptown Chronicle. Hunter is the director of membership and communications for the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. She lives in Madison. 

Hoptown Chronicle’s logo, featuring the old fire station clock tower, is the work of Dana Long. Now a resident of Arizona, Long grew up in Hopkinsville and was the newspaper’s copy desk chief. Long’s enthusiasm for the idea of creating a small news outlet in her hometown gave me an important boost early in the process.

I hope you’ll spend some time exploring this website and share the news of our mission with your friends. You can see all the stories going back to the first report in late November 2018. Sign up for the weekly newsletter that we’ll launch by the end of June. And watch for announcements of occasional Hoptown Chronicle events.

We’ll keep the Facebook page active, as well, and want to see Hoptown Chronicle’s social media following grow alongside the website. 

Hoptown Chronicle is recognized as a nonprofit by the commonwealth of Kentucky. Our 501(c)(3) application has been filed with the IRS, and the approval is pending. 

You are invited to help us celebrate this big step for Hoptown Chronicle. We’ll have a launch party Tuesday, June 18, at Hopkinsville Brewing Co. downtown. Come visit between 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. The brewery will be serving Hoptown’s best beer. The brewery also sells soft drinks, and children are welcome to attend the launch party. We’ll provide the food, plus a chance for you to test your knowledge of Hoptown. 

I hope to see you there,

Jennifer P. Brown, Founder and Editor
Hoptown Chronicle