What would Naperville look like without NCTV17?

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Sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone is a saying familiar to many. Over the last several weeks, since NCTV17 shared its financial challenge, several people have asked, What would Naperville look like without NCTV17?

“We learned about a new festival that was happening in town called the Naperville Salute and we saw that on NCTV17,” said Naperville resident Jeff Gross. “That informed us so we wanted to get involved in it and we did. Now, we are connected to a whole new group of friends and people we would have not met otherwise.”

For Jeff Gross, it would be missing the opportunity to get involved and make new friends but more importantly, joining a local nonprofit in its work to help veterans.

At the heart of NCTV17 is community-centric journalism. The idea of being a trusted source of local information that empowers and connects our community.

NCTV17 produces over 700 news stories in an average year. Stories ranging from a dentist’s mission work to Kenya to a local high school kid starting a nonprofit organization to tackle online harassment and cyberbullying. It also delivers breaking news like an EF3 tornado touching down in Naperville in June 2022 to nonpartisan coverage of local municipal elections. NCTV17 is committed to providing hyperlocal coverage of the people, places, and perspectives that represent our community.

This commitment was put to the test during the pandemic when NCTV17 played such a pivotal role in keeping Naperville connected and informed.

NCTV17 switched its operation to daily news and kept the entire town informed. Covering the first COVID patients at Edward Hospital, the arrival of vaccines, to the incredible spirit of the car parades. We supported the city in its messaging from the Mayor to the Fire Chief to the Executive Director of the Park District; all with vital information for the residents of Naperville.

“ I think it’s really important to be connected to know what’s going on. And I certainly thought that during COVID when we were all disconnected and isolated. It was nice to have a source of what was going on around us. And what was happening really locally,” said Cindy Darling.

Without NCTV17, Naperville would have been lumped in with Chicago area coverage losing the immediacy and the community-centric focus that was so necessary to keep our community together. During 2020, NCTV17 produced over 1,000 stories; a 40% increase versus a typical year, and visits to NCTV17’s website quadrupled to more than 250,000 visits/month as residents wanted to know what was happening specifically in Naperville vs. Chicagoland.

During that critical period, unlike many media publishers today, all of NCTV17’s content remained free to read or view and never sat behind an online paywall. NCTV17 believes that everyone, regardless of their ability to pay, should have access to a trusted source of information that can empower and connect our community.

Without NCTV17, Naperville loses this free hyper-local source of unbiased news that fosters shared understanding, civic engagement, and access to essential information.

We need to think differently about news and information, and how we support it. The impact of streaming and new technologies has made the old model of advertising obsolete. Today, many news organizations like NCTV17 are struggling to fund their operations. However, with your support, together we can overcome trends facing other communities – trends of dying news stations, hyper-politicization, and virtually eliminated neighborly ties. Where residents have no choice but to turn to social media for local “news” being disseminated by individuals who seek to influence versus inform and often divide us versus unite us.

For 37 years NCTV17 has been a nonprofit community television station dedicated to telling Naperville’s stories that foster understanding, promote civic engagement, and reflect the diversity of our community. Please consider a philanthropic contribution through business sponsorships, a monthly or annual donation. Your support, large or small, will help keep a trusted source of relevant, authentic, community-centered journalism available to all residents!

And, your support means we never have to answer the question: What would Naperville look like without NCTV17?

Liz Spencer
NCTV17 Executive Director