Cleveland Documenters Guru Lila Mills Tapped to Lead New Cleveland Newsroom from American Journalism Project

click to enlarge Lila Mills, named the EIC of new Cleveland newsroom. - Janet Century Photogrpaphy
Janet Century Photogrpaphy
Lila Mills, named the EIC of new Cleveland newsroom.

Lila Mills, currently the associate director of Neighborhood Connections, has been tapped as Editor in Chief of a new newsroom in Cleveland funded by the American Journalism Project and the Cleveland Foundation. Mills was hired after an extensive five-month search, according to a Tuesday morning press release, and will oversee editorial operations at the hotly anticipated digital outlet that aspires to become one of the largest and most trusted news sources in Cleveland.

Mills was an integral part of the creation of Cleveland Documenters, the corps of community members who live Tweet public meetings in an effort to shine a spotlight on local government agencies and increase civic literacy throughout the community. According to the Tuesday announcement, Cleveland Documenters will be folded into the new newsroom, which has already secured upwards of $6 million in private funding and plans to hire close to 20 editorial staffers. The Documenters will work with a team of editors and beat reporters in a collaborative reporting model.

“I am so honored by this opportunity to build a newsroom focused on equity and trained in community-building practices,” Mills said, in a prepared statement. “Our reporting will tell the stories residents care most about, hold decision-makers accountable, and be a primary source of verified information people need for their daily lives, in ways that are accessible to all. Above all else, we will never stop working to build trust with Greater Cleveland communities.”

Mills was previously a reporter at the Plain Dealer,  an advisor at the Cuyahoga Community College student newspaper, and the editor of Greater University Circle Neighborhood Voice, a community newspaper also launched by the Cleveland Foundation. 

“Lila is the visionary, service-driven leader Greater Cleveland needs to produce a new kind of independent, high-quality local journalism," said Michael Ouimette, a senior VP at the American Journalism Project and a member of the hiring committee. "The coalition and board are immensely grateful for the work of the search committee and residents who gave their valuable time and input into this process."

The hiring at the newsroom  will continue apace, according to the announcement. Now that the EIC has been secured, next up is the CEO, (what historically might have been called a "Publisher"), to lead the publication's business operations. Dual managing editors will also be brought on board, one to focus on news, including hiring the reporting team and overseeing coverage; and the other to focus on community, including managing engagement efforts and ensuring that the publication's coverage centers community needs.

Those roles and others will be posted on the website of the Ohio Local News Initiative, the Cleveland newsroom's statewide umbrella organization.

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