For the past two years, Indiegraf has helped over 50 established and startup publishers across North America grow their business through technology, marketing, and revenue growth support. However, being independent publishers ourselves, we realize a lack of capital can stifle progress for these outlets. That is why we created Indie Capital, a program that provides funding to small publishers who are pioneering new business models with Indiegraf’s support.
Back in December, we announced our biggest Indie Capital grant round yet. We are happy to announce that Indiegraf recently distributed $500,000 to 13 publications that received up to $50,000 for tech and growth solutions to support them on the path to long-term sustainability. This funding round was made possible through backing from the Meta Journalism Project as well as Indiegraf funders such as New Media Ventures, Spring, Marigold Capital and others.
The 13 grant recipients — narrowed down from 49 applicants — include publications from the U.S. and Canada. The grant money will be used to prove their respective product’s sustainability. To aid in that effort, Indie Capital recipients will receive support from Indiegraf to grow reader revenue and test new revenue streams.
By the numbers
- 49 publishers applied for grant support
- 37 publishers participated in introductory interviews
- 26 publishers short-listed for secondary application process
- 18 publishers submitted proposals, interviewed by committee
- 13 publishers selected by Indie Cap committee members
Here is a list of the publishers to receive grant allocations this year, including a description of each publication and the revenue streams Indiegraf intends to support:
- The Land: This local, nonprofit news organization led by publisher Lee Chilcote launched in 2020 with a focus on equitable community development in Cleveland’s neighborhoods. Through in-depth solutions journalism, they aim to foster accountability, inform the community, and inspire people to take action. Indiegraf will support The Land with reader revenue, ads and sponsorships.
- The Objective: Established in summer 2020 after founder Gabe Schneider couldn’t find a mainstream outlet to run a piece critical of the way protests were covered. After the post went viral on Medium, he and several other journalists started this media criticism website to better account for race, gender, class, disability and sexuality. Indiegraf will support The Objective with reader revenue and major gifts.
- Tone Madison: Covering culture and politics in Madison, Wisconsin, since 2014, emphasizing overlooked voices through in-depth, on-the ground reporting and commentary. Tone Madison co-founder Scott Gordon said the publication treats culture as a serious, complex subject that intersects with a multitude of other issues. Indiegraf will support Tone Madison with reader revenue, ads and sponsorships.
- Kansas City Defender: Founded in July 2021 as a nonprofit digital startup from founder Ryan Sorrell, producing news, digital tools and public services for Black people in Missouri and Kansas. The Gen Z-focused outlet’s primary coverage areas include education, justice, business, arts, culture and technology. Indiegraf will support Kansas City Defender with reader revenue, ads and sponsorships.
- The Flatlander: Founded in late 2021 to chronicle the people, culture and environment that make the Canadian Prairies exceptional. Publisher Kelly-Anne Riess delivers untold stories and nuanced coverage on complex issues in the Saskatchewan and Manitoba provinces amid shrinking local newsrooms. Indiegraf will support The Flatlander with reader revenue, ads and sponsorships.
- Constellation Media: This mission-driven, local outlet based in British Columbia includes two British Columbia publications: Tri-Cities Dispatch since February 2021 and The Ridge since last August. Publisher James Coccola and the team aim to build a sustainable local model that pays journalists fairly. Indiegraf will support Constellation Media with reader revenue, direct ad sales and sponsorships.
On top of those new publications, 7 existing Indiegraf publisher partners received grant allocations as part of an extension to continue working together:
- Shasta Scout: Non-profit independent online news service, Shasta Scout tells local stories that build democracy, with a focus on increasing trust in the news from within a highly polarized community. Since its launch in 2021, they have published over 100 stories about land use, the environment, Indigenous communities, government accountability and political and religious extremism. Indiegraf will support Shasta Scout with reader revenue and major gifts.
- The Palm Springs Post: As one of the first U.S.-based publishers to start working with Indiegraf, founder Mark Talkington delivers local Palm Springs, California, news every weekday since launching in February 2021. The publication has quickly grown to 6,000+ subscribers with plans to expand into the Coachella Valley. Indiegraf will support The Palm Springs Post with reader revenue, direct ad sales and sponsorships.
- IndigiNews: Indigenous stories told by Indigenous people who live in or near the communities they cover. Business Aunty Eden Fineday said IndigiNews looks for positive and relevant stories that demonstrate Indigenous strength, resiliency and beauty, attracting 15,000 email subscribers since launching in 2020. Indiegraf will support IndigiNews with reader revenue, direct ad sales and sponsorships.
- The Breach: Built in 2020 in response to a Canadian establishment media that won’t tell it like it is by publisher Dru Jay. This independent media outlet produces critical investigative reporting and analysis at the national level featuring voices and perspectives not heard elsewhere on issues underreported by other outlets. Indiegraf will support The Breach with reader revenue and major gifts.
- The Discourse: Founded in 2014, the Vancouver-area publication has since focused its coverage area in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island and Nanaimo. Editor Jacqueline Ronson has helped grow its subscriber base beyond 10,000 readers by producing in-depth work that reflects the local communities served. Indiegraf will support The Discourse with reader revenue, direct ad sales and sponsorships.
- The Independent: Established in 2003 as a newspaper and moved online in 2011, The Independent has built a trusted brand and relationship over time in Newfoundland and Labrador. Editor in chief Drew Brown brings essential coverage in a market that often lacks in-depth, well-resourced journalism. Indiegraf will support The Independent with reader revenue and a new events calendar.
- Sun Peaks Independent News: Celebrating 20 years as the only local news source in Sun Peaks, British Columbia, publisher Brandi Schier converted the newspaper into a digital outlet in 2020 to help ensure the operation’s long-term sustainability and continue to serve readers as well as visitors to the popular tourism destination. Indiegraf will support Sun Peaks Independent News with reader revenue and major gifts.
This Indie Capital funding round represents the latest investments we’re making in Indie Capital. Later this year, we plan to roll out other funding opportunities for community news publishers across North America that are committed to providing equitable coverage in communities experiencing news poverty.
If you have your own outlet and didn’t apply or advance this round, we encourage you to subscribe to the Indie Publisher newsletter to make sure you hear about future grant opportunities!