May 4, 2022
Our country was founded on the principle of freedom of speech, and a fair, free press. Current events around the world emphasize the importance of this tenet. The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia understands the power of the media to inform and elevate issues of importance, and that is why it has made a three-year commitment to InsideNova, providing support towards a dedicated position to report on underserved communities in Fairfax County, focusing on issues like housing, transportation, and so on. To date, the Community Foundation has awarded $27,500.

We recently spoke with Bruce Potter, the Editor in Chief of InsideNova, a local publication that covers issues all over Northern Virginia. In 2021, the Community Foundation awarded InsideNova a $15,000 grant to go towards reporting on underserved communities in Fairfax County, focusing on issues like housing, transportation, and so on. This year, we awarded another $15,000 grant so InsideNova can continue their focus on covering people and stories we might otherwise miss. Current trends to support community news outlets present incredible opportunity, and new challenges for these small publications. Here’s what Mr. Potter had to say to us:

In what ways have you seen the impact of the grant grow and change over the past year, particularly in ways you didn't expect?

“The grant was designed to support our news coverage of underserved communities in Fairfax County, with a specific focus on issues such as affordable housing, access to transportation and the like. Because of the lingering effects of the COVID-19, however, a lot of the coverage focused on issues such as vaccine equity, and efforts to provide rent and utility assistance to lower-income residents who had lost their jobs during the pandemic. We also, of course, were not expecting the region to have to deal with a huge influx of evacuees from Afghanistan, but when they started arriving, our reporter refocused some of his coverage on efforts to accommodate and resettle them and spotlighted some of the challenges they face. Overall, the position both broadened and deepened our coverage of local news and key issues in Northern Virginia, and for that we are grateful.”

Were there any challenges with the grant in the past year? How did you meet them?

“InsideNova is still building a brand presence in these areas of Fairfax County, so occasionally our reporter ran into challenges with sources who hadn’t heard of us. But once they were able to see our website and the stories he had written, they were on board. This is particularly gratifying because there are no other news organizations covering this area or these issues specifically. Building brand awareness and recognition of what we’re doing always takes time. The other major challenge was that the reporter did such a good job, that in March 2022 we promoted him into a full-time position covering another community, so we’ve had to backfill the position. We were lucky to find a strong and seasoned reporter to take the role, and are looking forward to having her come on board in May.”

Based on your experience, what challenges and opportunities do you see in foundations like CFNOVA supporting organizations like local newspapers?

"There are significant opportunities for foundations to support local journalism, especially when missions align. In this case, we’re able to work together to raise public awareness of the economic challenges facing many residents in one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, and to identify and spotlight potential solutions. There is hard evidence that quality local journalism generally strengthens a community, and a strong community is exactly what a community foundation should be working toward. In fact, our sister newspaper, the Rappahannock News, has worked closely with a local community journalism foundation for several years. The biggest challenge, which I think we have navigated well with the Community Foundation staff, is being clear that the media organization has the final decision over what is or is not covered and published. The Community Foundation is a fantastic resource and guide, but at the end of the day, the credibility of the content is paramount."

We thank Bruce for his time! You can subscribe to InsideNova and keep up to date with their reporting by visiting