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A news future in feisty upstarts?

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"We're doing all we can to help people see and understand the narratives of the city and also provide accountability, public-service journalism," says chief executive Scott Lewis. The site's $1 million annual budget comes from grants, membership donations, syndication fees, corporate sponsorships, and hosting events. (Keeping a steady budget hasn't been easy, though. In December 2011, a shortfall forced three layoffs. The newsroom now stands at eight people.)

The organization's mandate also includes civic edu-cation, "helping people understand even very basic things, like how a school board member is elected," Mr. Lewis says. This fall, about 2,500 readers attended the organization's second Politifest, a public-issues fair. It included briefings on governance, mayoral and school board debates, a tournament of problem-solving ideas, a kids' area, and a scavenger hunt.

"We're trying to create an atmosphere where the city's stories are as exciting to be around as a food festival, or an ethnic festival, or the other things this place is so good at putting on," Lewis says. "When people care about stories, they follow them and participate as civic actors to influence their outcome."

This Land Press (Tulsa, Okla.)

A century after W. Tate Brady helped found the city of Tulsa, Okla., his brand was everywhere: Brady Theater. Brady Historical District. Brady Tavern.

But time had buried an ugly truth: He was a Klansman. He helped tar and feather union members. He was an architect of the city's 1921 race riot. In September 2011, a new multimedia company published a meticulously documented account of the history.

Michael Mason, founder of This Land Press, thought 50 people might come to a panel discussion about the story. Then he ran out of chairs.

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