I’m so sick of writing stories about the end of the news media.
When I was editor of J-Source, I lost track of the number of stories I wrote about layoffs or newspaper closures. It wasn’t quite a weekly occurrence, but it happened enough to make me feel a bit jaded.
As a counterbalance, I found myself seeking out the good news stories. I profiled Allison Smith, a small publisher who is building a business out of provincial political coverage. I wrote about the launch of Vocal Fry, an inclusive and affordable podcast studio. I found out how The Athletic built its Canadian audience. Even after I left J-Source, I find myself drawn to the people who are trying to build better journalism no matter where they are, because I want this industry to continue to thrive and grow. (I’d also very much like to continue to be employed in it.)
It’s past the point of cliché to say that people want stories more than ever. But there’s nothing like a global pandemic to hammer the point home. Even as advertising revenue drops, media outlets are experiencing record high readership rates.
And there are underemployed journalists in communities everywhere who know what the stories are; they know who needs to be held accountable; and they know what needs investigating. All they need are the tools to build a sustainable news outlet.
That’s where we come in.
The Indie Publisher is a new newsletter from Indiegraf that will demystify media entrepreneurship. Every Friday, we’ll bring you practical tips, case studies and interviews with people who are taking the news into their own hands. Because media ownership isn’t only for people who can code or have buckets of money — it’s for anyone who believes in the mission of journalism.
In some of our first issues, we’ll be explaining why now — yes, now — is actually a great time to think about taking the leap. We’ll look at media outlets that have pivoted to COVID-19 coverage, and we’ll find out what it was that made some founders decide entrepreneurship was for them. I’ll be joined by Cherise Seucharan, a former staffer at the Star Vancouver who’s also been published in the Guardian, the Tyee and CBC. (We’re also looking to expand our writing roster — if you have a great pitch about publishing, send it my way!)
We’ll also take a good look at some of the challenges small businesses face. It’s never easy to be your own boss. Make that double for being in the journalism industry. And then triple it for trying during a global health crisis. There’s no sense in pretending it will be easy. But it will also be immensely rewarding.
I won’t lie — I’ve dreamed of opening my own outlet for a long time. So for me, this is an opportunity to answer some of my own questions. But I also want to answer yours. How much money should you have in the bank before you start a business? Should you become a non-profit or a for-profit entity? How do you think like a businessperson when you’ve been trained to think like a journalist? Once a month, we’ll open up the newsletter for our mailbag edition, where we’ll answer all those questions and more. (If you’re a keener, you can send me a question right now at [email protected].)
In the Indie Publisher, you’ll also hear about opportunities to start your entrepreneurial journey. We’ll share announcements from Indiegraf, including when we launch our Indie Network community and our call for proposals for the next round of Indie News Challenge participants.
The next few years will be transformative ones for the media industry. We want to make sure you have the tools to be at the forefront of the change.