Vancouver B.C., May 27 2020 – COVID-19 has made clear both the importance of local news — and the precariousness of its business model. Into these economic headwinds, a group of journalist-entrepreneurs are taking a leap of faith and collaborating to launch new local digital news outlets.
Today marks the launch of Indiegraf, a network of journalist-entrepreneurs and independently-owned digital publishers sharing resources to serve their local communities sustainably.
Indiegraf is a big bet — that the future of local news is here. “Obscured by headlines about a local news apocalypse is a generational opportunity to transform the news industry to serve our communities better,” says co-founder and CEO Erin Millar.
“I can honestly say I don’t know where Sun Peaks Independent News would be today without this,” says Brandi Schier, publisher and managing editor of Sun Peaks Independent News, a 17-year-old newspaper that launched a digital, reader-supported model during COVID-19. “Indiegraf is allowing us to plant the seeds for a more sustainable news model for the future of our community.”
Designed for today’s economic circumstances, Indiegraf’s publishers pool resources including technology, marketing and revenue staff, funding opportunities and training needed to successfully grow digital outlets to fill local news gaps. The goal is to make it easier for entrepreneurial journalists to launch digital news outlets and become sustainable.
Indiegraf is supported with seed funding from the Google News Initiative and Facebook Journalism Project, which also provided in-kind advertising credits to help publishers grow their audience. The Inspirit Foundation also supported Indiegraf’s development.
“Building sustainable business models for news publishers requires the innovative thinking and industry collaboration that makes Indiegraf so promising,” said Kevin Chan, Head of Public Policy. “At Facebook, we know we have a responsibility to the news industry, which is why we’ve been working with Canadian publishers to find new solutions. We’re thrilled to continue working with this team to support news innovation in Canada.”
The new company will be led by Millar and co-founder and CTO Caitlin Havlak. It builds from their work together over the past five years at the successful local news publisher The Discourse, a community-funded outlet that has won numerous awards across North America for its ambitious journalism.
“Entrepreneurship and innovation are urgently needed to fill gaps in local news,” says Millar, noting that 50 community newspapers have closed in Canada as a result of COVID-19. “Media ownership can’t only be for people who can code or have buckets of money — it’s for anyone who believes in the mission of journalism.”
Indiegraf Partner Publishers
- Sun Peaks Independent News, a print newspaper and digital outlet serving a small mountain community in B.C.’s interior.
- The Discourse Cowichan provides in-depth news, powered by the community in the Cowichan Valley B.C. on Vancouver Island.
- Peterborough Currents is a digital news startup that provides in-depth journalism with deep community roots in Peterborough Ont..
- IndigiNews, a new venture of The Discourse in partnership with APTN News. It’s a new digital platform for local news serving First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, and will soon expand to Vancouver Island.
- La Converse, a media outlet fuelled by dialogue that serves francophone Canadians and bridges divides.
- Spark YQL is Lethbridge Alta.’s first independent news outlet. It tells stories that spark conversation through consistency, transparency, and inclusive representation.
To learn more about Indiegraf:
- Visit Indiegraf.com for more information and to contact the team.
- Subscribe to the Indie Publisher, a new weekly newsletter that demystifies news entrepreneurship. Every Friday, H.G. Watson, the former managing editor of J-Source, will bring you practical tips, case studies and interviews with people who are taking the news into their own hands.
- Register for one of our Zoom information sessions to hear how Indiegraf works and ask your questions.