The Colorado Sun has created an alliance with a group of digital news startups around the country to work toward a common goal: building and growing sustainable business models to support the important work we all do for our communities.
As it formally launches this week, the Alliance for Sustainable Local News brings together a group of high-quality, trustworthy, nonpartisan news organizations. Besides The Sun, they include:
- The Baltimore Banner, a rapidly growing, 8-month-old startup with a broad product portfolio, focused on the greater Baltimore area.
- The Daily Memphian, a 4-year-old, broad-based news organization covering all of Memphis.
- Block Club Chicago, a 4-year-old, neighborhood-centric organization now serving a majority of Chicago’s neighborhoods and offering city-wide reports.
- The Long Beach Post, which relaunched and expanded four years ago to become the primary news and community information source in the Long Beach (California) area.
- Lookout Local/Lookout Santa Cruz, a 2-year-old, full-service news company now planning expansion, with Santa Cruz County its first community served.
Together, these news organizations employ more than 275 full-time journalists and business-side team members, paying professional salaries and developing a new, needed pipeline of diverse, multi-generational, mission-driven talent.
Alliance members will remain completely independent of each other, but will support each other through shared learnings and joint initiatives. They bring with them a variety of business models and tax structures, and they are committed to fulfilling a quality news outlet’s role as a pillar of a healthy democracy.
“This is a group of do-ers,” said Sun Editor Larry Ryckman. “We’re already learning from each other, and this new alliance will accelerate those initiatives.”
These ASLN members share fundamental values in the greater movement to revive, reinvent and renew the kind of local news journalism communities all across North America deserve. These are the key characteristics we share:
- We are mission-driven, aiming to set new digitally driven standards of trustworthy, nonpartisan news in, for and with the communities we serve. We comprise both nonprofit and for-profit structures.
- We have aimed to bring sufficient investment to our ventures so that we can create enterprises of sufficient size and scale.
- We are business-driven, believing sustainable local news of scale must establish itself largely on earned revenue. We earn that revenue through our readers (subscription or membership), advertising, events and services.
- We prize and appreciate philanthropic support, and see it as a key part of early investment and as a supplement over time.
The alliance will advocate for the need to create and support new, large, mission-driven news organizations as quickly and prudently as possible. We will call for big-tent thinking that includes all serious-minded, next-generation local news providers to be included in the larger debate of local news revival and its funding.
We will seek shared solutions that can benefit both ASLN members and those in the wider industry, to reduce costs and enable us all to focus on the local news work itself.
“While the fundamental journalism we do is not new, the models this group has pursued are innovative and complicated,” said Eric Barnes, CEO of the Daily Memphian. “Sharing ideas about the successes and challenges we’ve had has been incredibly valuable as we continue to grow and expand.”