A project of Democracy Fund

July 9, 2019

How a hyperlocal startup is “reclaiming and informing the narrative” of North Omaha


Here on the Local News Lab, we regularly highlight collaborations between journalists, newsrooms, and communities that help build healthy news and information ecosystems. This case study is from the Wyncote Foundation’s 2019 Building Stronger Communities Through Media report, and is the first in a series we’re republishing with their permission and the permission of the authors.

Screenshot of NOISE Omaha’s homepage

North Omaha Information Support for Everyone (NOISE) is a hyperlocal news initiative formed by and for Omaha’s predominantly black northside neighborhood. NOISE grew out of an information ecosystem assessment led by the Listening Post Collective through which leaders in north Omaha described and documented gaps and bias in mainstream media coverage of their community. 

“Information is most powerful in the hands of the masses”

NOISE Founder Dawaune Hayes

The Listening Post Collective is a project of Internews, an international nonprofit that works in community development through media. Internews strives to ensure that people have access to quality information that empowers them to have a voice in their communities’ futures. The Listening Post described its work in north Omaha as aiming “to support a richer and more useful flow of information and conversation through the community, so that residents can get the news they need and have their voices heard.” 

The Listening Post’s interviews and final report spurred north Omaha residents to be proactive in advancing the exchange of news, information, and storytelling inside and outside of their part of the city. Led by Dawaune Lamont Hayes, a north Omaha native with a journalism background, NOISE began in 2018 to engage people and partners to build needed media connections and increase the quality of news and information available for neighborhood residents. 

NOISE Director Dawaune Hayes discusses the history of racism in Omaha and the importance of reclaiming local narratives at TEDxCreightonU 2018 (TEDxTalks)

Through its own website and in partnership with other neighborhood media outlets, NOISE is sharing community-created news reports; promoting community events; and highlighting government information on topics like zoning, public health, schools, and public safety. NOISE produces a weekly radio report for the neighborhood-based Mind and Soul Radio (101.3 FM), a project of the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation; publishes an insert for the Omaha Star, one of the nation’s longest standing woman-founded, black-owned newspapers; and convenes community listening sessions where local residents meet in person to share story ideas. 

Community members with the NOISE team during Power Hour, a weekly space to gather, converse, and contribute to the information landscape
(Image courtesy of NOISE Omaha)

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At a Glance

  • Organization Type: NOISE is housed within the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization
  • Operating Budget: less than $50,000 in its start-up year
  • Key Funders: Sherwood Foundation, Weitz Family Foundation
  • Contact: Dawaune Hayes, Founder and Director, noiseomaha(at)gmail.com
  • As a largely volunteer project, NOISE is actively seeking funding from area foundations, businesses, and individuals. A recent grant from the Sherwood Foundation is providing welcome start-up capital.

Related Links

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About Wyncote Foundation

The Wyncote Foundation’s Public Media and Journalism Program is a place-based philanthropy in Philadelphia that works to further a thriving public media ecosystem that is vital to animating and sustaining democracy’s public sphere.

About the Author

Image of author Sarah Lutman

Sarah Lutman is founder of 8 Bridges Workshop, a St. Paul-based consulting and program development firm, and serves as senior advisor to Wyncote Foundation’s Public Media and Journalism Program.