Waiting to be told: Behind the Resort Harassment story by Sun Peaks Independent News

A controversial comment made during a tourism conference in March made national Canadian headlines. After asking all the women in the room to stand in honour of International Women’s Day, a man said ‘Now go clean rooms and do dishes’ — a bad joke, bad enough to turn heads and land him in the spotlight. For the reporting team at Sun Peaks Independent News (SPIN), however, this was more than a poorly chosen joke: it was a red flag. 

That man was former general manager of Sun Peaks Grand Hotel & Conference Centre, Vivek Sharma. Aware of the role Sharma had once held within the community, the SPIN team decided to dig a bit deeper. Sadly, as their research eventually found, it’s never “just a joke.” 

Looking into Sharma’s history at Sun Peaks Resort (SPR), a new, even more troubling remark came to light. A former resort employee shared the story with SPIN: While trying to “motivate the staff” at a meeting in 2016, Sharma said “Sometimes you get raped. You just have to lay down, take it and enjoy it.” This particular comment was then made public by CBC, following the 2022 comment. And yet, the SPIN team knew that’s not where the story ended. In fact, it raised an even bigger red flag: why had Sharma continued to work at the resort for three more years after that comment?

Indeed, as Sharma’s comments became part of the national news cycle, former and current SPR employees started reaching out to SPIN. They had stories to tell. Not only had there been no reprimand for Sharma’s comment in 2016: this was just one of the many instances of discrimination and harassment that were swept under the rug by the resort’s management. Eager to open an important discussion about harassment and power in their community’s tourism industry, the SPIN team got to work.

Indie Publisher reached out to Kayla Empey, community reporter at Sun Peaks Independent News who led this coverage, for the story behind the story.

How did you first learn about this issue?

Empey: The story began with a post we saw on LinkedIn explaining how Vivek Sharma told women at the B.C. Tourism and Hospitality Conference to ‘clean rooms and do dishes’ while speaking at the podium.

When SPIN’s publisher Brandi Schier saw the post, it caught her attention because Sharma used to work at the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel & Conference Centre, and there were allegations of other offensive comments he made at the time.

I began investigating the story, but CBC ended up breaking the news before us. However, once Sharma’s name made national headlines, more sources began reaching out to SPIN wanting to share their experiences.

Through my interviews, our team realized the big ‘issue’ might not be Sharma’s behaviour, but the fact he continued to work at the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel for years after formal complaints were put in against him, and staff said he didn’t seem to be reprimanded.

The issue then became more clear when I spoke to other employees who said it wasn’t just Sharma who has gotten away with harassment at SPR.

Why was it important for the Sun Peaks Independent News team to cover this story?

Empey: It was important for SPIN to cover this story because we wanted to begin valuable conversations about how SPR and the tourism industry as a whole can move forward towards change. We wanted to give a voice to those who have felt like they weren’t able to speak up.

Covering this story also helped show the community we are truly independent. SPR has a lot of influence in Sun Peaks and some residents might have thought we wouldn’t publish a story like this. However, what matters most to SPIN is telling stories that impact the community.

What made you decide to go deeper after Sharma’s comments made national news, considering he no longer worked at the resort?

Empey: We wanted to dig deeper into the story because even though Sharma no longer worked at SPR, it’s still relevant to current and former employees because of the lasting impact his comments had on them. Also, it highlighted the overarching issue of how it was addressed by resort leadership and how staff said issues continued to be brushed aside after he left. 

In addition, we heard directly from our readers and the community that the story was much larger than Sharma’s actions, and that many people felt the issue deserved a closer look in the community.

When covering difficult topics, how do you establish trust with your sources so they feel safe to speak openly?

Empey: I think since this issue had not been publicly spoken about for so long, the sources trusted SPIN because we were the ones finally bringing it to light. Most of our sources reached out to us wanting to tell their stories, and I was ready to listen.

I also made sure to communicate with the sources frequently throughout the process to ensure they were comfortable with what we were publishing and that nothing identified current employees who wanted to remain anonymous to protect their jobs.

What lesson could other journalists gain from this coverage?

Empey: A lesson journalists could gain from this coverage is to not be afraid to speak up against those with strong influence and use your platform to give others a voice. The positive feedback I received was overwhelming and showed how long the community was waiting for this story to be told properly.

Another takeaway is how important community-based independent journalism is. This story wouldn’t have been possible without a local reporter who was dedicated to digging deep into the wider management issues, and a great team for support.


Strong journalism inspires strong journalism. Through the Behind the story series, we intend to give you a peek behind the scenes of quality journalism: what makes great stories? How are they built? What impact do they have? We will try to answer these and more questions about the work and the processes that go behind strong journalism.

Open Letter: Canada’s Online News Act must be transparent, fair, and include news innovators

When the Liberal government announced its intention to support Canada’s news industry, the reasons given were to sustain local journalism, support innovation in news, and ensure diversity in the news industry. Bill C-18, the Online News Act currently before Parliament, guarantees none of these things.

Four key changes are needed if Canada is to have the vibrant journalism citizens need for a healthy democracy. 

We are a coalition of independent Canadian news publishers, pushing for amendments to C-18 to ensure the bill lives up to its promise to strengthen Canadian journalism. We represent over 100 outlets serving communities coast to coast to coast and employing over one thousand journalists. Taken together, our readers and listeners number in the many millions. Many of us have risked personal capital, fundraised from our communities, and built newsrooms from scratch to reach underserved audiences, many at the local level. 

Collectively, we represent Canada’s most innovative digital news media, local news outlets, both French and English language media, and BIPOC-led news media — we are the innovative news organizations that are rebuilding the local news ecosystem. The Online News Act represents an opportunity to accelerate this innovation and progress.

We have come together to ask for basic fairness in Bill C-18.

The centrepiece of Bill C-18 is a funding model aimed at mandating large web platforms like Facebook and Google to compensate Canadian news organizations for posting content on their platforms. Unfortunately, as it is currently structured, Bill C-18 does not specifically direct funding towards supporting the critical work of journalists. The bill also lacks robust transparency mechanisms and, most importantly, it risks leaving out small, medium size and independent publishers.

Even before it was tabled, Bill C-18 has resulted in winners and losers in the news industry. There have been a series of secret, backroom deals between Big Tech and the largest newspapers in Canada, along with a handful of small- to medium-sized publishers. An unintended but likely consequence of Bill C-18 as currently structured may be to cement these inequities and this secrecy, which threatens the public’s already-frayed trust in journalism.

To be clear, we support the goal of creating a sustainable news industry. It is not too late for the current legislation to address the needs of the Canadian news media ecosystem. We want it to be amended to ensure the following: 

  • A transparent, fair funding formula
    A universal funding formula should be applied consistently to all qualifying news organizations. This funding formula should be disclosed, and the public must know which news organizations are receiving money from tech companies.
  • Support for journalists
    Compensation from tech platforms should be based on a percentage of editorial expenditures or the number of journalists that work for an organization, inclusive of freelancers.
  • Inclusion
    Bill C-18 may exclude dozens of important news innovators by demanding employee thresholds that news startups often don’t reach until their 3rd or 4th year of operation. 
  • No loopholes
    Bill C-18 currently includes vague and poorly-defined criteria allowing for “Exemption Orders” that could let Big Tech off the hook, benefitting a few large news organizations and shutting out hundreds of legitimate small to medium size newsrooms. 

While we recognize the reality of the wider news crisis, our organizations represent rays of hope, and are proving that there is a future for a dynamic, inclusive news ecosystem in Canada.

Bill C-18 is modeled after Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code. It must not repeat the mistakes of that legislation. In Australia, an estimated 90 per cent of negotiated revenues flowed to the three largest media companies.

We encourage the government to revisit and improve Bill C-18.

As small, medium size, and independent news publishers, this new legislation is too big, and too important, to fumble. Bill C-18 will have a massive impact on the future of journalism and news in Canada.

Let’s make sure we get it right.

UNDERSIGNED
Arsenal Media
Canadaland
Canada’s National Observer
Constellation Media Society
Discourse Community Publishing
Indiegraf
Metro Media
Narcity Media
Neomedia
Overstory Media Group
Politics Today
Village Media
Alberta Today
BarrieToday
BayToday
BC Today
BradfordToday
Burnaby Beacon
Calgary Citizen
CambridgeToday
Canada’s National Observer
Capital Daily
ChrisD.ca
CollingwoodToday
ElliotLakeToday
EloraFergusToday
Enbeauce.com
EnergeticCity.ca
francoischarron.com
Fraser Valley Current
Guelph Politico
GuelphToday
Harbinger Media 
IndigiNews
InnisfilToday
insideWaterloo
Journal Metro
La Converse
Mabeauce.com
Macotenord.com
Magaspesie.ca
Metro Ahuntsic-Cartierville
Metro Beauport
Metro Charlesbourg
Metro Cote des Neiges & NDG
Metro Hochelaga Maisonneuve
Metro IDS-Verdun
Metro L’Actuel
Metro L’Appel
Metro L’Autre Voix
Metro Lachine & Dorval
Metro Lasalle
Metro Le Jacques Cartier
Metro Le Plateau Mont-Royal
Metro Mercier & Anjou
Metro Montreal-Nord
Metro Ouest-de-L’ile
Metro Outremont & Mont-Royal
Metro Pointe-aux-Trembles et Montreal-est
Metro Quebec
Metro Riviere-des-Prairies
Metro Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie
Metro Saint-Laurent
Metro Saint-Leonard
Metro Sud-Ouest
Metro Ville Marie
Metro Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension
MidlandToday
Monjoliette.com
Monlatuque.com
Monmatane.com
Montemiscouata.com
Monthetford.com
Monvicto.com
MTL Blog
MuslimLink.ca
Narcity
Neomedia Chambly
Neomedia Joliette
Neomedia Laval
Neomedia Rimouski
Neomedia Rive-Nord
Neomedia Saguenay
Neomedia Sorel-Tracy
Neomedia Trois-Rivières
Neomedia Vallée du Richelieu
Neomedia Valleyfield
Neomedia Vaudreuil
New West Anchor
NewmarketToday
Northern Ontario Business
Nouvelles d’Ici
Oak Bay Local
OakvilleNews.org
OrilliaMatters
Ottawa Sports Pages
Parliament Today
Peterborough Currents
PressProgress
Queen’s Park Today
rabble.ca
Ricochet Media
SooToday
StratfordToday
Sun Peaks Independent News
Taproot Edmonton
The Breach
The Coast
The Discourse Cowichan
The Discourse Nanaimo
The Flatlander
The Green Line
The Home Pitch
The Hoser
The Independent
The Line
The Local
The Peak
The Resolve
The Ridge
The Rover
The Sprawl
The Tyee
The Westshore
The Wren
Tri-Cities Dispatch
Tribe Magazine
Vancouver Tech Journal
Vocal Fry Studios
Women’s eNews


Want to add your outlet to this letter? Fill out this form to express your interest.

Behind the Story: Birth Alerts Investigation by IndigiNews

Birth alerts ended in September 2019 when the British Columbia’s Ministry of Children and Family Development announced an end to the practice in which social workers could flag expectant parents who they deemed unfit to hospital staff. Under the system, hospital staff would then alert the social worker when the parent gave birth, giving the social worker the opportunity to intervene and possibly apprehend the child. 

But these birth alerts were already deemed “illegal and unconstitutional” by the B.C. attorney general months before the practice was barred, according to internal government correspondence received after the fact by IndigiNews. Conscious of the implications for thousands of Indigenous families — who are disproportionately impacted by birth alerts — members of the IndigiNews team spent much of 2021 informing the public about the implications of the information it had received through public records requests.

Timeline of the Birth Alerts investigation, courtesy of IndigiNews.

After breaking the story in January 2021, IndigiNews continued reporting on the issue by providing context on birth alerts throughout the country, sharing reactions and calls for accountability from Indigenous community leaders, and amplifying the experience of a Cree Métis mother. Seeking to expand awareness on the issue, the IndigiNews team went deep into the systematic discrimination involved in birth alerts and the long-term impacts not only for individuals but for entire Indigenous communities. The interview with Anishinaabe social work professor Billie Allan, for example, meticulously analyzed how practices such as birth alerts impact reproductive health choices and overall trust in the healthcare system.

IndigiNews’ reporting on birth alerts has already received a Canadian Online Publishing Award, and is nominated for two others. Most recently, the series was nominated for a Freedom of Information CAJ Award. We asked three of the journalists behind the IndigiNews coverage (Anna McKenzie, Brielle Morgan, and Tessa Vikander) how the stories were built and what lessons other publishers could learn from this editorial and journalistic experience.

How did you first learn about this issue?

McKenzie: I knew about birth alerts before I became a journalist because of stories I had heard from other Indigenous women.

Morgan: I learned about birth alerts and their impacts through media coverage, families and communities advocates. 

Vikander: One of our reporters, Bayleigh Marelj, filed a Freedom of Information Request. The documents they received back contained information we were surprised to see. As a team, we built a reporting plan and then got to work quickly. The government tried to retract the documents and stop us from publishing, but we knew we had a right to publish the story and affected communities had a right to the information, so we went ahead.

Why was it important for IndigiNews to cover this story?

McKenzie: I felt a lot of fear delivering my first child because of the threat of birth alerts and the overrepresentation of Indigenous families involved in the child welfare system. I wanted to draw attention to and question the issue to protect Indigenous families from losing their babies.

Morgan: In B.C., birth alerts have resulted in child apprehension “approximately 28% of the time,” according to an MCFD record from 2019. These alerts disproportionately impact Indigenous children and families in Canada — 58% of parents impacted by birth alerts in B.C. in 2018 were Indigenous, according to the B.C. government’s data. These alerts have been called “racist and discriminatory” and “a gross violation of the rights of the child, the mother, and the community” by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. IndigiNews is one of few media outlets with reporters dedicated to covering the child-welfare system. It’s a sensitive space, requiring trauma-informed reporting practices, and there is much at stake for Indigenous children and families.

Vikander: There are many Indigenous families who may have been subjected to birth alerts without even knowing it, so it was important to get the issue back on peoples’ radar. Furthermore, what we learned from the FOI documents was new and hadn’t been reported before. We saw that it was significant, and we were right as evidenced by the proposed class action lawsuit that was later filed on behalf of parents — a direct result of the reporting. The impact of a birth alert, when it leads to a baby being taken away from its parents in hospital, can haunt a family for the rest of their lives.

How did you advance the story after breaking the news?

McKenzie: We have spoken on many platforms, including CBC Radio and APTN National News. We also held reporting workshops through IndigiNews.

Morgan: After this breaking news story, IndigiNews followed up by providing context from across the country, including reactions and calls for accountability from Indigenous community leaders and B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth.

Vikander: After reporting on the status of birth alerts in B.C., we looked at what was happening in other provinces. We also followed up with families who’ve been affected by birth alerts and with lawyers who helped put together a proposal for a class-action lawsuit on behalf of impacted parents in B.C.

How did your reporting divert from mainstream coverage?

McKenzie: This story was born out of a personal experience and was not a traditionally “objective” journalism piece. It also required a lot of trauma-informed care, both for the interviewees and the writers.

Morgan: We uncovered new information, refused to give into attempts by the government to silence us and consistently centered the perspectives of Indigenous people in our coverage. We worked collaboratively with a mother who experienced a birth alert to get her story out there in a good, trauma-informed way.

Vikander: We decided it was an issue that we wanted to pursue for in-depth coverage, and were able to put a lot of resources towards it, both in terms of reporters and editors.

What lesson could other journalists gain from this coverage?

McKenzie: To be brave, have courage and look at the injustice in the eyes. Use the power and privilege of being a writer with reach to draw attention to issues that are negatively impacting BIPOC folks, and to injustices that are occurring that the public may not be paying attention to.

Morgan: There are so many stories to tell about the child-welfare system. We need more journalists in this space who are trained in trauma-informed practices and committed to working slowly and collaboratively with community members.

Vikander: When it comes to what others can learn from our coverage, I think first and foremost of what those with the power to build and fund in-depth community reporting can learn. When a team of reporters and editors is given the resources it needs to shed light on an issue, the time to fact-check and do in-depth interviews and the time to build relationships with those they are reporting on, then their work can have a tangible impact. To do so, they need to not be saddled with the demands of daily story-writing. Without those resources, it’s very hard to do justice to a story such as this.


Strong journalism inspires strong journalism. Through the Behind the story series, we intend to give you a peek behind the scenes of quality journalism: what makes great stories? How are they built? What impact do they have? We will try to answer these and more questions about the work and the processes that go behind strong journalism.

Subscribe to Indie Publisher

There are underemployed journalists in communities everywhere who know the real stories in their market — who to hold accountable and what needs investigating. All they need are the tools to build a sustainable news outlet.

That’s where Indiegraf comes in.

Indie Publisher is a newsletter from Indiegraf that wishes to demystify media entrepreneurship. Every week, we’ll bring you practical tips, case studies and insights from people who are taking the news into their own hands as well as opportunities for your own entrepreneurial journey. Subscribe today!

Want to read first?

Haven’t decided if you want to sign up? Here are a couple of stories from past Indie Publisher editions.

If you’re looking for inspiration:
👉Read the story behind IndigiNews’ birth alerts investigation series
👉Learn about 3 Latin American activism terms to apply to your journalism
👉Read how Marfa cafe and retail shop helps sustain an established newspaper.

If you’re looking for practical tips for audience growth:
👉Follow these tips to grow your audience through lead magnets
👉Here’s how to gain Instagram followers on a small budget
👉Learn how an outlet grew its newsletter subscribers from 0 to 2K in 4 months.

You can also read our most recent stories here:

How to use swag to meet your audience goals
People love journalism, a deadline and free stuff.
Waiting to be told: Behind the Resort Harassment story by Sun Peaks Independent News
“The positive feedback I received was overwhelming and showed how long the community was waiting for this story to be told …
This is what a youth-led editorial agenda looks like
The Kansas City Defender has become the most-trusted news outlet for local Black youth and organizers. Here’s how, and why, they …
Open Letter: Canada’s Online News Act must be transparent, fair, and include news innovators
Without amendments, Bill C-18 risks disproportionately benefitting large news organizations and shutting out digital startups and independent media.

These are the 13 publishers awarded $500,000 in Indie Capital grant money

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!

Indiegraf announces $1 million initiative help partner publishers achieve sustainability

VANCOUVER — Indiegraf is accepting expressions of interest for a new round of Indie Capital, a $1 million program for publishers committed to growing their audience and revenue on the path to long-term sustainability. Indie Capital will provide up to $50,000 in funding to help independent community news publishers grow and diversify their revenue.

“Since launching in 2020, Indiegraf has been focused on developing a proven pathway for small digital news outlets to achieve sustainability by filling local news gaps,” says Erin Millar, CEO and co-founder of Indiegraf. “Our publishers are making an impact and achieving strong revenue growth by providing high-quality community journalism. But most are not yet sustainable. We believe, with targeted funding and support, they will pioneer new pathways to sustainability for journalist-entrepreneurs.”

This initiative represents the expansion of Indie Capital, Indiegraf’s program to provide funding to small local news publishers that are pioneering new business models using the Indiegraf platform. Previous recipients of Indie Capital funds include Peterborough Currents, Palm Springs Post, Inside Waterloo, Cold Tea Collective, Bushwick Daily and others.

Since its founding, Indiegraf has helped over 50 established and startup publishers across North America grow their audience and revenue. Using Indiegraf’s platform, publishers such as IndigiNews, Shasta Scout, The Breach and many more have attracted tens of thousands of email subscribers and generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue from readers.

These news organizations are part of a movement of small, independent publishers emerging to fill community news gaps. The number of independent local news outlets in North America has grown to 700 in the past five years, but only one in five consider themselves sustainable, according to the Project Oasis Report. The majority of independent publishers cited in the report bring in less than $100,000 per year and rely heavily on a single revenue source.  Most used personal savings for seed capital to get off the ground.

Publishers based in the United States and Canada are eligible to apply. Publishers that are not currently part of Indiegraf are invited to apply if they are interested in joining Indiegraf. Indiegraf is seeking independent publishers providing quality journalism to communities underserved by other media outlets, that have a track record of audience and revenue traction and equitable coverage. Special consideration will be given to news outlets owned or led by Black, Indigenous and people of colour journalists.

Read about the full program details, criteria and selection process here. If you are interested in learning more, contact Indiegraf’s publisher success manager Joe Lanane.

Submit an expression of interest by December 23. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to submit a full application before January 30.

This round of Indie Capital is made possible by the Meta Journalism Project and Indiegraf funders including New Media Ventures, Spring, Marigold Capital and others.

This new funding program is the latest investments Indiegraf is making in Indie Capital. In 2022, Indie Capital plans 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’re not eligible for this first program, but you’d like to express your interest in future opportunities, sign up for Indie Publisher.

Media contact: H.G. Watson, [email protected]

Indiegraf Media

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