East Lansing Info pauses operations amid staffing shakeup

Local news website seeks community feedback on ‘next stage’

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FRIDAY, April 15 — A local news site that covers the city of East Lansing has temporarily ceased operations after its top editor announced plans to resign for another job opportunity.

Emily Joan Elliot, — the acting executive director of East Lansing Info who has been filling in for publisher Alice Dreger while she’s away on sabbatical, announced plans to quit on May 6,  leaving the local news organization “without a plan” for its top leadership, Dreger said.

As a result, ELi’s Board of Directors accepted a recommendation from Dreger this month to implement a two-week publishing “pause” through April 18 to “work on assessing community needs, wants, opportunities and tolerances — to figure out, before moving to the next stage, what people here think is necessary and doable,” Dreger wrote in in a blog post on April 4.

“It’s not possible for me to drop all my sabbatical commitments and step back in,” Dreger added.

The most recent piece of news coverage on the website today was from nearly one week ago.

Instead, the homepage now features a survey designed to garner input to “grow intelligently and gracefully to the next stage,”  which could include shifting from one or two online stories every day to a simpler “weekly news roundup,” in addition to its usual print edition every two months.

One survey question asks readers if they would still rely on ELi for news if “it changed its digital publication to a weekly news roundup with an additional one to three feature news articles.”

ELi’s board will use the results to “assess East Lansing’s reporting needs” and “how to best balance that with paying our reports and other staff a competitive living wage,” according to the recent blog posted on the website. Dreger also noted that ELi will remain a “nonprofit, factual, honest, nonpartisan news organization staffed by people who live here.”

“That makes it extra tricky to find new leadership, because the board understands it needs leaders who have real experience in nonprofit management, journalism and East Lansing,” Dreger said. “It means figuring out how to  raise enough money to hire and retain great people.”

The latest blog post also mentions plans to offer a $50,000 salary to whoever replaces Elliot, a role which will also include writing, fundraising, development and staff management. More details are set to be made available in an official job description that hasn’t yet been posted.

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