🚀 The Big Blast from Tiny News, May 2024
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🚀 The Big Blast from Tiny News, May 2024

Helping news entrepreneurs and their communities flourish

By Amy L. Kovac-Ashley

Welcome to the Big Blast, the monthly newsletter from Tiny News Collective! Our goal with this newsletter is to keep you updated on all happenings at Tiny News, alongside the accomplishments of our fantastic group of news startup founders. Our mission is to provide support to help early-stage founders build sustainable news organizations that reflect the communities they serve. We don’t succeed unless they succeed. We know newspapers have been disappearing, and news deserts proliferating, so we take seriously our role as pollinators in those deserts.

Since I started as the first full-time executive director of Tiny News in January, I’ve been getting to know some of the founders at the 28 startups that make up the Collective so far. It’s amazing to see the journalism they are providing their communities — and the impact they are having on their information ecosystems. They are diverse culturally but also in the work and coverage they provide, from Amethyst Davis covering Harvey, Ill., a majority-Black town in the South Side of Chicago, to Jeannette Andruss covering the public school system in Orange County, Calif., to the folks at worker-owned Rascal News covering tabletop role-playing games.

We know that watchdog government reporting is vital to democracy and communities, but we’ve also lost some of the glue that holds communities together: arts coverage. Austin Vida covers arts and culture for the Latine community in Austin, and The SHOUT recently launched to cover arts in Wichita, Kansas, including a fantastic arts calendar with more than 300 listings for this month.

Cara Kuhlman, second from right, on a tour of the Seattle waterways in May 2024. She began offering these tours as part of community engagement for her site, Future Tides. (Photo courtesy of Cara Kuhlman)
Cara Kuhlman, second from right, on a tour of the Seattle waterways in May 2024. She offers these tours as part of community engagement for her site, Future Tides. (Photo courtesy of Cara Kuhlman)

What works so well at these publications is that the publishers come from the communities and understand the communities’ needs. That is a rarity in the world of local journalism where reporters at newspapers and local TV stations tend to move around a lot. Plus, these founders have been experimenting with creative community engagement ideas, such as Cara Kuhlman at Future Tides offering up free tours to folks in the Seattle waterways (see photo above).

How we support startups

Our goal at TNC is to figure out the best way to support founders as they go from pre-launch to launch to the growth phase and beyond, with relevant training and connections to other folks who can help. For those who want to join the Collective, here is some of what we provide:

We offer rolling applications, so go here to learn more about joining us. We really lean into the “Collective” part of our name, with members supporting each other on calls and through our Slack community. Being a news founder can be isolating and challenging, especially for those in low-wealth news deserts, so this community really makes a difference, and I’m excited to work in service of these inspirational founders.

It is heartening to see the $500 million-plus Press Forward coalition of funders decide to focus on smaller news organizations with smaller budgets in its first open call for grant applications. It’s vital that our community of founders exists, and we will do all we can to help our founders position themselves for success in applying for the grants, which will provide critical general operating support. This first Press Forward open call is very promising.

It’s truly an honor to help facilitate this diverse community of news entrepreneurs. If you want to learn more about Tiny News, don’t hesitate to contact me at amy@tinynewsco.org or find me at the upcoming INN Days conference in San Diego next month.

TNC News

Welcome to our new membership director: Andrea Faye Hart

TNC's new membership director Andrea Faye Hart (Photo by Ariel J. Cobbert)
TNC's new membership director Andrea Faye Hart (Photo by Ariel J. Cobbert)

Supporting founders is the most important mission for TNC, so we’re happy to announce our very first membership director: Andrea Faye Hart. She will join the team officially on June 5 and will be in charge of our entire membership experience, including recruitment, application and selection, as well as managing member training and services. 

Andrea is an award-winning media-based organizer and educator who most recently served as chief strategy officer for the Memphis-based MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, helping the organizations grow its budget to $2.4 million. Previously, she was a co-founder and director of community engagement for City Bureau, a Chicago-based civic journalism lab. She also has a master’s of divinity from Vanderbilt Divinity School, and describes herself as a “proud queer Quaker.”

Learn more about Hart in this story on TNC’s website.

Changing of the guard on the TNC board

At TNC’s March 2024 annual meeting, the Tiny News Collective board of directors and staff recognized and thanked André Natta for serving on the board since November 2020. Natta recently became the executive director of the Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism, which publishes BirminghamWatch, and his board service with Tiny News ended on March 20, 2024. During the annual meeting, three new officers were voted in for the 2024-26 term. They include Lillian Ruiz as chair, Tyler Fisher as secretary and Jillian Bauer-Reese returning as treasurer. Tiny News Collective also thanks Kara Meyberg-Guzman and Aron Pilhofer, outgoing chair and treasurer, respectively, for their service. They will remain on the board for another term. Learn more about changes to TNC’s board.

TNC receives funding to create metrics program for news startups

The Tiny News Collective is grateful to announce that the Collective received $250,000 from the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation to support building a metrics initiative to serve local news publishers in 2024. For new and early-stage local news organizations, the challenge of what metrics to measure and the labor of collecting and analyzing data is a significant task. To overcome this obstacle, the Collective is building out a data and metrics program to support local news founders and inform the local news support ecosystem. A key aspect of the work is to connect founders with mission-critical data and metrics to help them make informed business decisions so they can use their limited time and resources in the best possible way. The program will launch later this year. Learn more about it here.

Founder shoutouts

Every month, the Big Blast will highlight the wonderful work (and media appearances) of TNC founders. Here’s a selection of recent news from our founders.

🎊No fooling, The SHOUT launched its website and sent its first email newsletter on April 1. Learn more about the arts publication for Wichita here.

🎉Are you a fan of tabletop role-playing games and culture? Check out one of our newest TNC members, Rascal News. It’s a new, independent, reader-supported, worker-owned outlet with the motto, “Write Free or Die.”

TNC Member Amy Bushatz in the studio hosting "Outdoor Explorer" at Alaska Public Media. (Photo courtesy of Amy Bushatz)

🎙️Yep, that’s TNC member Amy Bushatz living her dream as a public radio show host at Alaska Public Media, with the first episode of “Outdoor Explorer.” Later this year, she will launch the Mat-Su Sentinel to cover the Matanuska-Susitna Valley in Alaska. She was also featured as a panelist at the very first meeting of Press Forward Alaska.

💸TNC member Delonte Herrod of The Intersection (pictured top right) is part of the very first Fundraising for Community Media cohort run by the Center for Community Media. It’s a three-month, tuition-free, online program designed in collaboration with The Lenfest Institute for Journalism’s News Philanthropy Network (NPN), explicitly aimed at supporting community-based news media that have been historically underserved and underrepresented in philanthropy.

🎙️More podcast news! Amethyst Davis of Harvey World Herald was recently a special guest on the “Small Press, Big Ideas” podcast, talking about her journey from studying at NYU during the pandemic to returning to her hometown to launch a new publication. TNC executive director Amy Kovac-Ashley was also a guest on “Small Press, Big Ideas,” talking about her career arc in journalism and how TNC can support news founders. Have a listen!

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Thanks for checking out our inaugural edition of the Big Blast from Tiny News. Be sure to follow us on social media to keep up with the latest from TNC and our amazing group of founders!

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The Big Blast Credits

Written by Amy L. Kovac-Ashley, with Mark Glaser
Edited by Amy L. Kovac-Ashley and Heather Bryant

Featured Image: Amethyst Davis of Harvey World Herald (in Illinois), Claudia Amaro of Planeta Venus (in Wichita, Kansas) and Nora Hertel of Project Optimist (in Minnesota) met up at The Newsletter Conference's inaugural gathering in New York City. (Photo courtesy of Nora Hertel)


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