The Strathmore Speakers Series and Onondaga Free Library‘s October 2021 event featured Central Current, Inc. co-founder, Eric Persons. Central Current is a new nonprofit, nonpartisan, and independent digital news agency based in Syracuse. Eric discussed the Central Current project and the role of local journalism in creating an informed and engaged citizenry.
This event was held on Thursday, October 14th. Missed it? Watch the full video below.
About Eric Persons
Eric is supporting Central Current, Inc. because of journalism’s renewed focus on citizenship and community engagement. As a broadcast journalist, he witnessed violent crime, economic failure, and a decline in social capital, and he became frustrated that his work had little impact in helping his hometown of Buffalo, NY address those conditions. Now, local news can no longer survive and thrive without having a strong, responsive relationship with its audience. He believes that online journalism provides opportunities for innovation and creative storytelling that can strengthen an understanding of issues, create engaged citizens, while also preserving journalistic objectivity and integrity.
Eric stepped into a newsroom over 30 years ago with interest in covering sports, local news and politics. As a television photojournalist, he covered breaking news overnight while spending his days covering the NFL, NHL and college sports. His news stories involved countless homicides, weather events and car accidents while also contributing to stories on local government, the economy and cultural events. In 1996, his coverage of a suspect’s death in police custody contributed to an investigation and homicide charges filed against a Buffalo police lieutenant.
In 1997, he traveled overseas to learn more about the political, economic, and social changes occurring in Central and Eastern Europe. The experience turned into a career developing programs in higher education and public affairs. He directed university programs on political and economic reform in Washington, DC, the Czech Republic and Greece until arriving at Syracuse University in 2002. He has been a resident of Central New York ever since, where he has developed community initiatives involving urban planning and design, public health and economic development. He also represented Syracuse University at the local, state and federal levels of government, and has been an advocate for innovation and community engagement in higher education.
About Central Current
Mission: Strengthen Civic Engagement and Democratic Governance
Central Current, Inc. is working to launch a nonprofit digital news publication that will provide balanced, fact-based news, opinion and analysis about the issues, events and happenings that impact life in Central New York. At a time when commercial interests and political interference are limiting quality journalism, we strive to fulfill a need for independent news with thorough and investigative coverage of issues to help residents be well-informed citizens. Our objective is to strengthen civic engagement and democratic governance, and to foster a prosperous and healthy community.
As a digital multimedia news organization, Central Current, Inc. will take an entrepreneurial approach to online journalism that redefines the relationship between news media and its audience. We will publish quality journalism and produce meaningful stories through writing, video, photography and other forms of media. As a mission‐centered nonprofit organization, we are exclusively focused on serving and engaging the community to enhance civic dialogue and understanding of issues. We will uphold the highest standards of journalistic integrity and creative storytelling while ensuring news coverage reflects the needs and diversity of the region.
Our motivation is our love for Central New York, but knowing we can do better. Our region is an attractive place to live and raise a family. But we also have one of the highest rates of poverty and racial segregation in the country. And while having a strong industrial heritage with dynamic anchors in higher education and health care, we struggle to drive investment and growth in our economy. It is necessary more than ever to have a better understanding of the issues that impact our entire community and resolve any disconnect we have to realizing a better future.
We are also driven by an entrepreneurial spirit that is rooted our region’s diversity and talent. The people we employ and others who support our work will be more than representative of our community; they also will have an ownership in our enterprise. Our work culture will be defined by a collaborative group of individuals and partners from different backgrounds, experiences and skill sets who are willing to try new approaches and learn from each other and from the community we serve.
We strive to be a reliable and trusted resource for journalism and to set the standards for integrity and creativity that other news organizations will want to replicate. Our content will be free and accessible to everyone, and we will offer programs and events to foster dialogue on the issues we cover.
At a time of great transformation in journalism and digital media, we are well positioned in Central New York to make the most of that opportunity. We are rich in talent, and have a young and entrepreneurial generation of professionals living in Central New York who want to make an impact in their community. Our journalists will include writers, photographers and great storytellers, all of whom will be committed to quality standards and practices to advance their craft.
– From centralcurrent.org