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New INN members tout strong local news focus

June 27, 2024

Almost three dozen nonprofit news organizations, most of them digital outlets and locally focused, will have access to benefits such as professional development, grants and other personalized support as new Institute for Nonprofit News members. 

INN recently welcomed 32 news organizations to the INN Network. With those outlets, its membership has grown by 51 so far this year

Several of the new members emerged from existing publications that shuttered during the pandemic or recently converted to nonprofit organizations. Longtime journalists founded many of them. Others, such as The Owen News, have veteran journalists on their leadership teams. 

Some new members also are engaging community members in their news operations. The Hardwick Gazette in Vermont is led by local citizens. A group of concerned citizens started the Acton Exchange after the local newspaper closed. Other publications train community members to cover public meetings and important local issues.  

Not everyone gets to be a member of INN. INN receives more than 100 applications for membership every year, half of which are declined for not meeting its membership standards.

INN reviews membership applications and accepts new members throughout the year. Organizations applying to join INN are vetted by INN staff to ensure they meet standards for ethics, transparency, independence and quality of journalism and are then approved for membership by leading journalists on the INN Board of Directors and Standards Task Force.

As INN members, the news outlets have access to INN programs that will help them develop revenue and business models to support strong reporting, collaborate on editorial and business innovation, share services and advance the diverse leaders forging a new future for news. That support pays off. Ninety percent of INN members are still in business after five years. 

“The INN community is a family, and we’re so glad to see our family of newsrooms growing –especially at a time when so many newsrooms are shrinking and closing,” said Jonathan Kealing, INN’s chief network officer. “The work these newsrooms do every day is not easy, but they are making a difference for their communities, and we’re glad to have them in the INN Network.”

Full members

News organizations that are full members of INN regularly publish original investigative or public service journalism. They have 501(c)3 status or fiscal sponsorship from a 501(c)3 organization and editorial independence from that fiscal sponsor. The newest full members of the INN Network are:

The Acton Exchange, a local volunteer-run newsroom in Acton, Massachusetts that launched in 2023. The local newspaper in Acton closed in May 2022, and a group of concerned citizens decided to start a new publication. Their mission is to provide “relevant and accurate news to the Acton community.” They aim to reflect diverse voices and encourage civic and community engagement.

ChicoSol, a digital news website based in the Northern Sacramento Valley of California and founded in 2008. ChicoSol is fiscally sponsored by North Valley Community Foundation. They aim to “provide cross-cultural feature writing and bold investigative reporting in the Chico area,” and cover topics such as police violence, homelessness, hate crimes and water management.

Detroit Public Television, a PBS affiliate founded in 1955, which operates Great Lakes Now and One Detroit. Great Lakes Now, or GLN, is a regional multimedia news hub that provides in-depth news coverage of issues affecting the Great Lakes and serves 30 million local residents. One Detroit tells authentic stories of the region’s diverse population and produces content dedicated to understanding diverse communities in Metro Detroit, arts and culture, and the future of work. 

Embarcadero Media Foundation, which was founded in 1979 as the for-profit Embarcadero Media Corp. The organization converted to a nonprofit in January. The foundation publishes seven digital and print publications based in central California, including Palo Alto Weekly, Mountain View Voice, and Redwood City Pulse. They focus on “reporting and publishing high quality local news and information, convening events and supporting programs that lead to a more informed, equitable, engaged, and cohesive community.”

Peaks Island News, a free community newspaper that was founded in 2024 and is based in Peaks Island, Maine. Its mission is to “inform readers, document local history, and deepen special connections that help maintain a year-round, sustainable community.” They cover local institutions, arts, politics, business and culture.

Public Media of New England, which operates WHAV, a public radio station in Haverhill, Massachusetts that was founded in 2011. They aim to “strengthen local democracy, promote civic engagement and hold government accountable by reporting accurate, reliable and trustworthy information on-air, online, everywhere.” WHAV publishes multiple stories a day on their online publication, Wavelengths.

Stet News Palm Beach, a news website founded in 2023 by former Palm Beach Post journalists and based in West Palm Beach, Florida. Their coverage focuses on government accountability and solutions-oriented reporting on local government and business.

The Colorado Sun, which was founded by journalists in 2018 and converted to a nonprofit in 2023. The Sun is based in Denver and published for a statewide audience. Its founding was “in direct response to the changing values and capacity of corporate-owned legacy media in Colorado.” 

The Local Journalism Foundation Inc., which publishes NowKalamazoo, was founded in 2019 and is based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Its mission is to “empower our readers with the information they need to make informed decisions, hold those in power accountable, and create positive change in our community.” The foundation’s journalism programs include grant-making to and fiscal sponsorship of independent journalists and media organizations in Kalamazoo, and journalism training of citizens. Its civic engagement programs include events and forums to discuss “big ideas” and candidates, as well as resources for navigating civic society.

The Pulp, a digital news outlet founded in 2023 by former Missoula Independent journalists,  based in Missoula, Montana, and fiscally sponsored by Tiny News Collective. Their mission is to “produce in-depth journalism that informs and engages the people of Missoula and western Montana and advances transparency, equity, and democracy.”

The Sick Times, a digital newsroom founded in 2023 that chronicles the long COVID crisis, including infection-related chronic conditions such as myalgic encephalomyelitis, dysautonomia, mast cell activation syndrome, etc. It is fiscally sponsored by INN member MuckRock.

The Yonkers Ledger, a digital newsroom based in Yonkers, New York and founded in 2023. It is a local volunteer-driven that reports on municipal government, policing, schools, and more.

WXPR, an NPR affiliate public radio station founded in 1983 that covers seven counties in north central Wisconsin and parts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. WXPR, operated by White Pine Community Broadcasting, Inc., “exists to inform, entertain, and engage our community; enrich lives with music, information, and interaction; and build positive lasting relationships.” 

Provisional members

Provisional members of INN receive support while working to fully meet INN’s membership standards for editorial excellence, independence and transparency. Provisional members often are fiscally sponsored by INN or other organizations while launching their fundraising efforts. They can tap into INN’s Network Philanthropy Center to learn about fundraising and access resources for audience growth. They also benefit from the INN peer community that shares knowledge and tips.

The newest provisional members are:

The Frame – Framingham News in Focus, a local news website founded in 2023 and based in Framingham, Massachusetts. Its mission is “to connect people in Framingham with community information, trusted journalism and local media.” It is an initiative of Access Framingham, a public access television station.

Alameda Neighborhoods News, a digital newsroom founded in 2022 and based in Alameda, California. It aims to educate the community about ethics-based, factual news reporting and produce content based on that purpose. They also offer a journalism education program for interested locals.

Corporation For New Jersey Local Media (CNJLM), which was founded in 2020 with a primary mission to preserve local newspapers under threat of being purchased by bad actors. CNJLM purchased News Jersey Hills Media Group in March 2022 and is finalizing its conversion of its 14 weekly newspapers to nonprofits. New Jersey Hills Media Group’s papers have about 16,000 total subscribers. 

Davis Vanguard, a digital news organization based in Davis, California that produces watchdog journalism on topics such as local fiscal issues, labor, environmental issues and courts.

Jackson Purchase Voice, Inc., which publishes The Murray Sentinel, a digital newsroom  based in Murray, Kentucky. They have been publishing since 2023. Their mission is “to promote, facilitate, and inspire a broad spectrum of civic engagement” in their county. 

Mat-Su Sentinel, a digital news startup in Palmer, Alaska slated to begin publishing in August. “Mat-Su” stands for the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, a region the size of West Virginia with a population of 110,000. Veteran journalist Amy Bushatz leads the Mat-Su Sentinel. 

Jefferson County Beacon, a digital news startup launched in April and covers rural Jefferson County, Washington. 

Miami News Trust Inc., a nonprofit organization soon to relaunch Coconut Grove Spotlight and was founded in 2023. They focus on producing local news content and information that will “inform, engage, and empower” its audience. 

Northeast Kingdom Public Journalism, Inc., a newly formed nonprofit that was given the assets of The Hardwick Gazette, a weekly newspaper founded in 1889 in Vermont that ceased printing during the coronavirus pandemic. The new organization is led by local citizens and with contributions by former Gazette staffers. It published its first issue on January 10.

Oregon News Exploration, which was founded in 2023 and is led by a team of journalists including nonprofit news veteran Lee van der Voo of InvestigateWest and Civil Eats. Their funders include the Oregon Community Foundation and the American Journalism Project. They have been conducting Oregon’s most comprehensive analysis of newsroom challenges, consumer attitudes about news and information, and exposure to misinformation. 

Proof, a news “studio” founded in January that “provides data-driven reporting and analysis of the most important questions of our time.” Founder and editor-in-chief Julia Angwin also founded INN member The Markup.

Reparations Media NFP, which publishes Change Agents Podcast, and was founded in 2021 in Chicago. The podcast amplifies community-driven grassroots solutions to society’s most pressing issues, including reentry after incarceration, homeownership disparities, anti-Blackness, and violence in Chicago’s marginalized communities and across the Midwest.

The Richmonder, a local digital startup based in Richmond, Virginia that is planning to launch by September. The Richmonder is led by Michael Phillips, executive director and former senior editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Sentinel Colorado, a print newspaper based in Aurora, Colorado, founded in 1908, and converted to a nonprofit in 2023. Sentinel Colorado’s mission is to “provide factual, trusted, nonpartisan news, investigations and features about the Aurora region and community, available to everyone.” 

Shoresides, a podcast-based digital newsroom founded by journalists in 2019 and based in Wilmington, North Carolina. They cover topics such as rural policy, health and racial justice. They are a project of Narrative Arts, a nonprofit and nonpartisan social justice organization that “enlists the power of narrative to support people’s efforts to achieve justice and equity and solve their own problems in their own ways.”

The Owen News, a Spencer, Indiana-based newsroom founded in 2022 with a leadership team that includes several longtime journalists. They aim to deliver “reliable and unbiased local news and information to empower our readers and build a stronger community.” 

Urban Media Arts, a community media arts center based in Malden, Massachusetts that publishes Neighborhood View. Launched in 2014, Neighborhood View is a digital newsroom covering issues such as affordable housing, gentrification and community organizations. Overseen by editor Don Stradley, they train local volunteer citizens to cover subjects and issues that are important to the community.

Waterbury Roundabout, a Vermont-based digital news outlet founded in 2020 after the Waterbury Record, a local print paper, closed. The Roundabout focuses on providing readers with “news about local government, schools, businesses, community organizations, events, and the people who live, work, and play in and around the Waterbury region.” Their fiscal sponsor is Vermont Journalism Trust, the parent nonprofit of INN member VTDigger.

Affiliate members

Affiliate membership is open to organizations that share the INN mission of advancing nonprofit public service journalism but aren’t primarily newsrooms. 

National Federation of Community Broadcasters, a journalism support organization founded in 1975. The foundation provides services such as training, consulting and networking events to community stations within the public media system. It has more than 200 member stations primarily located in rural areas.To find a nonprofit newsroom covering a specific region or topic across North America, visit the INN Network Directory.

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