Nonprofit of the Month: North Dakota News Cooperative

2 mins read
Arianna Nygaard checks out a recent issue of Kid Scoop at Divide County Elementary School in Crosby, ND.

In the late 2010s, a small committee from the North Dakota Newspaper Association began to envision the mission of a nonprofit organization or cooperative. In 2021, the group officially formed the North Dakota News Cooperative as a 501(c)(3) organization.

The group formed the nonprofit with the mission to provide diverse, reliable, and contextual reporting on issues and events that impact the lives of North Dakotans. Furthermore, the organization is committed to advancing news literacy across North Dakota. I reached out to Jill Denning Gackle, co-chair of the North Dakota News Cooperative, to discuss the organization’s journey so far, their mission moving forward, and more.

According to Denning Gackle, North Dakota News Cooperative was first launched to address the issue of newspapers across the state oftentimes being understaffed. The North Dakota News Cooperative hired a journalist to dig into the stories that matter most to our state and would help in building a stronger state with vital communities and informed citizens.

Jill Denning Gackle, Co-chair of the North Dakota News Cooperative

Powerful Progress! At least 50 percent of the state’s newspapers are running the North Dakota News Cooperative stories, while the western half of the state’s schools are receiving the monthly Kid Scoop News with hopes (with enough funding) that by the fall of 2023, all the state’s elementary schools will receive it.”

– Jill Denning Gackle

“We wanted to hire the right journalist for the job and that took some time. Michael Standaert joined us in July 2022 and has provided dozens of free deep-dive stories to newspapers statewide since. The response from the public is extremely positive. North Dakotans know that an engaged, informed public makes for engaged citizens who vote, volunteer, serve on committees and boards, and care about their communities and state,” Denning Gackle said.

On top of the goal to provide in-depth stories that are critical to North Dakotans, the organization also remains committed to improving news literacy across the state, as they work closely with educators and the Department of Public Instruction.

“The Department of Public Instruction is updating its standards in the library science and language arts area, both of which include standards for news literacy. Students are trained in how to determine what is a reliable source and, just like a news story, the importance of multiple sources,” Gackle said.

“We are at the table working with educators and the Department of Public Instruction team. We are also helping to get Kid Scoop News, an updated version of the popular Weekly Reader, into every elementary classroom in North Dakota. Reading scores are alarmingly low and we want to work with educators to provide students another tool.”

Pam Podoll’s second-grade class at Velva Elementary School.

North Dakota News Cooperative’s Values

Accuracy: We must strive to report facts accurately or we will lose our credibility.

Independence: We believe independence is a cornerstone of reliability.

Impartiality: We seek out multiple sources, disclose as much as possible about sources, and ask for comments from those with varied perspectives.

Accountability: We are accountable for our work, prepared to accept criticism and publicly correct all factual errors in our reporting. Whenever a factual error in our reporting is confirmed, we will take immediate steps to correct it on our own platforms as well as in any newspapers or other media that have published, in print or online, reporting that contains the error.

– From the North Dakota News Cooperative Website

Kid Scoop News is one of the educational opportunities that donations are put toward when donating to the North Dakota News Cooperative through reporting services. Increased donations allow for Kid Scoop News, alongside its other in-depth stories, to expand its availability to a state-wide level.

Denning Gackle believes that some people have given up on news in many formats. This can be detrimental to both publications and readers that will lose out on important and pertinent information.

“Without real reliable and relevant information, we will struggle as a democracy. We’re working with the North Dakota Broadcasters Association on shared goals for the future,” Gackle said

It’s evident that very few, if any, other organizations are doing what the North Dakota News Cooperative is doing, especially to their extent. Readers can support their cause through donations toward their reporting services, word of mouth, and sharing their mission with others.

Support! North Dakota News Cooperative

Website |
Email | [email protected]
Twitter | @NDNewsCoop
Address | 1435 Interstate Loop Bismarck, ND 58503