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Upcoming Events: Feb. 2020

The Feb. 13 Akron Chapter Public Relations Society of America luncheon meeting will step away from focusing on traditional media outlets to feature insights on the local news landscape from Chris Horne, founder and publisher of Akron arts and culture magazine The Devil Strip.

A Georgia native and digital news veteran, Horne knew he faced an uphill battle when he launched the endeavor in 2014. Print publications were — and are now — downsizing and, in some cases, folding amid decades-long declines in readership and advertising. Still, the Rubber City newcomer felt there was a place for his "nakedly pro-Akron" approach to community coverage.

Horne’s persistence paid off. He was able to convince enough advertisers of that approach to support the free monthly for its first five years. However, in the face of sustained revenue pressure and a desire to "create more social currency," Horne is shifting The Devil Strip to a first-of-its-kind, multi-stakeholder cooperative. Backstopping the effort is a two-year, $200,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Giving readers a voice is meant to deepen the connection between the paper and its audience, while also producing content that is more meaningful to locals and, consequently, fostering a better-educated, more civically engaged community.

"We are not doing this just so The Devil Strip can survive," Horne explained. "Our fundamental question is, 'What can we do to help make Akron a better place to live?'"

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