Apply by June 19 for the Indie News Challenge!

We’ll help you get from the idea stage to attracting your first subscribers.

Erin Millar  - June 10, 2020

Have you ever wanted to start your own news outlet? Applications are open until June 19 for the second cohort of the Indie News Challenge, our accelerator to help independent digital media launch and grow. 

What is the Indie News Challenge? Over nine weeks starting in July, a group of journalist entrepreneurs from across North America will work together to build an outlet from the idea stage to actually attracting subscribers and readers. Through weekly Zoom seminars, exercises, one-on-one feedback and a community of like-minded peers, you’ll develop your idea into a clear plan with early traction you can present to funders.

The new cohort of the INC is being offered through Indiegraf, a network of journalist-entrepreneurs and independently-owned digital publishers sharing resources to serve their local communities sustainably. If you missed the announcement, read how Indiegraf helped launch six new outlets during COVID-19.

We’re so proud of what the first cohort of INC accomplished. Ayesha Barmania and Will Pearson expanded Peterborough Currents from 20 to nearly 2,000 email subscribers. Brandi Schier launched a reader-support campaign that saved Sun Peaks Independent News after advertising revenues collapsed as a result of COVID-19. We developed and launched IndigiNews Okanagan through this process, which is now expanding to Vancouver Island. Hannah Sung created her fast-growing newsletter At The End Of The Day. Melissa Villeneuve launched Lethbridge’s first independent news outlet Spark YQL. And Martin Lukacs developed a new project yet to launch with an incredibly exciting and diverse team.

“We launched our newsletter, attracted a large audience of email subscribers, gained motivation and energy for our product, secured some funding, learned how to think strategically about our product and revenue streams and received lots of encouragement,” Pearson told us after completing the program.

We especially encourage BIPOC journalists to apply for the next cohort of INC. The need for more Black, Indigenous and POC-owned media was extra clear in the last couple of weeks, as mainstream media fumbled covering police brutality protests.

The cost to participants is $500. The rest of the cost has been subsidized by the Facebook Journalism Project and Google News Initiative. We’re committed to making the program accessible to everyone regardless of their ability to pay, so we will waive the participant fee for those who need it.

With more than 50 newspapers in Canada shuttering during COVID-19, entrepreneurship and innovation are urgently needed to fill gaps. But 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.

Register for a webinar next Tuesday to learn more about Indiegraf and ask your questions. Or submit an expression of interest for the Indie News Challenge now!

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