News Startup Fund provides a lift to promising news outlets

Courtesy Pexels
Courtesy Pexels

Indiegraf is pleased to announce the first publishers supported by the News Startup Fund. This new $3.5 million fund to supports the launch and growth of startup news organizations filling local news gaps in underserved communities.

Selected from over 150 applications, the publishers funded by the News Startup Fund represent the most promising early-stage independent news organizations across North America. Successful applicants were awarded based on a rigorous assessment that considered their revenue potential, journalistic impact, community need and whether the funding could make a significant impact on their growth. 

“The Buckeye Flame has experienced colossal, jaw-dropping growth in the past 10 months, and so much of that is due to our invaluable partnership with Indiegraf,” said Ken Schneck, editor of Ohio-based publisher Buckeye Flame. “The News Startup Fund has supported everything from our reader revenue campaigns to advertising fulfillment to audience engagement, all directly leading to our scrappy little LGBTQ+ newsroom establishing itself as a vital part of our local journalism landscape.”

The first recipients include startup news publishers serving audiences in English, French and Spanish in communities across North America, including: 

  • Athens County Independent (Ohio)
  • Austin Vida (Texas)
  • Black by God (West Virginia)
  • Buckeye Flame (Ohio)
  • Conecta Arizona (Arizona and Mexico)
  • GuateNews (United States and Guatemala)
  • Harvey World Herald (Illinois)
  • Kansas City Defender (Missouri)
  • La Esquina TX (Texas)
  • NowKalamazoo (Michigan)
  • Oviedo Community News (Florida)
  • Peterborough Currents (Ontario)
  • Pivot (Quebec)
  • Range Media (Washington)
  • Shasta Scout (California)
  • The Pulp (Montana)
  • The Rover (Quebec)
  • The Wren (British Columbia) 
  • Windspeaker (Alberta)

Over 70% of publishers selected self-identified as underrepresented. Three out of four publishers are at “proof of concept” stage, meaning they have demonstrated community need and journalistic impact but have not yet established minimum viable operations or revenues.

The program has already helped publishers grow their audience and revenue. Since beginning the program, publishers have grown their email newsletter subscribers by 35%, on average, and the portfolio has grown their revenue a combined 114%.

“These startups are not only making a positive impact on their own communities – they are also proving that small community news can grow and thrive in 2023,” says Erin Millar, co-founder and CEO of Indiegraf. “Indiegraf is on a mission to make local news entrepreneurship not only possible but a great career and life choice for journalists everywhere. The News Startup Fund lowers the barrier to entry and democratizes local media ownership.” 

The News Startup Fund is made possible thanks to support from the Google News Initiative, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and McConnell Foundation.

“One could simultaneously argue it’s never been easier to become a publisher, and never harder to remain one. Knight Foundation is proud to support Indiegraf because we believe that it is proving out a model for supporting aspiring publishers as they start, sustain, and ultimately grow their organizations and serve their communities,” said Duc Luu, director of Sustainability Initiatives/Journalism at Knight Foundation. 

Can I still apply to the fund?

We will be opening applications again to a handful of publishers who are ready to start the program this fall. Priority will go toward early stage and pre-launch publishers. Please keep an eye out for an announcement this summer via this newsletter.

​Once a publisher is selected, we earmark funds for them to access as they progress through the stages of the program. So as the months go on, we will have a better understanding of remaining funds available after supporting the current recipients. We will share an update on available funds and potentially reopen applications again in the winter.

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