Grateful and inspired: Turning the page to the next chapter of TNC’s story

Grateful and inspired: Turning the page to the next chapter of TNC’s story

By Heather Bryant

It’s a fascinating experience to write a statement about a leadership change and feel this much excitement, but I find myself smiling as I write this. For all the things that are difficult about the field and industry of journalism, there are still bright spots, and, for me, the Tiny News Collective has long been one of them. So, I feel a lot of pleasure, and dare I say pride, to see this organization that I’ve been a part of since it was just an idea, reach this point in its journey.

We started with a simple question around who needs help and isn’t receiving it in local news that turned into a simple hypothesis around what could happen when you make the basic core supports around tech, operations, finance and product strategy available to local news founders. What we found is that real change can happen.

My mandate as co-founder and interim executive director was fairly straightforward. Build. Test. Validate. What should Tiny News Collective actually do? What do founders want and need from such an organization? Is there a clear ongoing role for an organization that does what Tiny News Collective does?

It’s now three years and 25 new local news organizations later, with many more ready to join. Tiny News Collective offers services around technology, fiscal sponsorship, product and operational strategy and a community of peers from a broad spectrum of communities, professional experiences and personal identities. Founders are a pivotal part of driving our constantly evolving services and supports. We’re unique in what we do and how we do it, and there’s so much yet to be explored.

There is much to be concerned about, even angry about, when it comes to the state of news and information. I’ve never made secret my strong feelings about the conflict between journalism as an industry and journalism as a service. TNC, for me, has always been about building and supporting a better future for journalism as a service. Journalism that is deeply centered in the needs of community, created collaboratively by people of their community, and measured by its utility, its inclusion and how it tells not just the facts of a community but the truth of it. TNC founders are building a better future for news and information in communities long unserved, underserved or historically harmed by legacy media. I can think of no more important mission than that, and the difficulty of that mission is why TNC exists. Such a thing cannot be achieved alone. It requires a collective effort. 

I’ve long believed that most people can do most things with the proper support. I see it every day in TNC’s work with founders—many of whom do not have formal journalism or business training—and I’ve experienced it myself in how TNC’s team, board, advisors and members have supported me as interim executive director. I also strongly believe that no one person should try to be all things, all the time, indefinitely. I see that every day as our members learn how to shape their roles as founders and how that evolves as their organizations grow. It’s also true for me as TNC has grown. Some of you may have heard me say this before, but I’ve considered myself intentionally temporary from day one. I had a specific piece of this work, a specific mission, that I felt both drawn to and for which I was a right fit.

I’m so deeply grateful for the opportunity to have played my part in helping TNC reach this point and glad to support the team as they move toward the next stage in TNC’s development as an organization.

I’m thrilled to support Amy L. Kovac-Ashley as she moves into the role of executive director for TNC and will be around for a while still to help out as TNC expands this coming year thanks to generous support from the Knight Foundation, the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation and the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund.

It’s truly been an honor and an absolute privilege to have worked with TNC’s remarkable members these past few years and the extraordinary team that has built TNC into what it is today. There is no greater reward than to have been able to participate in work that truly matters.

Stay informed

Sign up for our monthly newsletter for ongoing updates, announcements, and resources for newsroom entrepreneurs.