Meet the 16 news businesses selected for the 2022 GNI Startups Labs on Planning for Revenue Growth
These publishers will receive training, coaching and funding to support strategic revenue generation.
What’s the top challenge facing LION members? Unsurprisingly, it’s generating adequate revenue to support ambitious journalism and a vibrant team. And while revenue opportunities exist – reader revenue, advertising, sponsorships, events and philanthropy, to name a few – it can be challenging to know which revenue streams are right for your organization and how to get started raising that money.
The Planning for Revenue Growth Lab, hosted in partnership between Google News Initiative and LION Publishers, aims to address that challenge by helping news businesses assess and prepare for the right revenue opportunity.
Earlier this month, we announced the 32 news publishers taking part in the GNI Startups Lab on Managing Money and Risk and Building and Managing a Team. Now, we’re thrilled to announce the 16 participants in the Planning for Revenue Growth Lab, the last of the three GNI Startups Labs we’re running this year.
These 16 publishers were selected from nearly 100 applications in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, having demonstrated the capacity to launch or grow a revenue stream. Each outlined an informed idea for a revenue opportunity and is looking to explore, refine and operationalize their plan.
The program will provide training, funding and coaching on:
- Opportunity sizing
- Market and audience research
- Financial planning
- Setting goals
- Building revenue operations
- Planning for the future
Training associated with all three Labs is available to all LION members on the LION News Entrepreneur Academy.
“The Google News Initiative works to create and support sustainable publisher business models, and so we are excited to partner with LION Publishers on this next GNI Startups Lab,” said Conor Crowley, Head of the GNI Startups Program. “Prioritizing revenue opportunities and setting financial goals are essential for news entrepreneurs, and we’re eager to see what this cohort can achieve and share learnings so others can benefit.”
The publishers will be supported by an incredible group of coaches: Maria Archangelo, Sam Gross, Scott Rosenfield and Todd Stauffer (more information below).
Congratulations to all the participants!
Interest in the Lab: For the past couple of years we have established diverse revenue streams but have had a hard time setting financial goals. I’m excited to dive deeper into market research with the insights we’ve gained and identify where there is room for growth. I’m also grateful that the Lab comes with funding so we can implement what we learn.
Mission: 9 Millones’ dream is that the nine million Puerto Ricans around the world have the necessary information to advocate for a healthy, prosperous, and joyous society.
Anchor Media, LLC / The Hingham Anchor
Interest in the Lab: We are thrilled to participate in this program as it validates the need for what we are doing for our community. We started the Anchor as a passion project to meet the news needs of our community and we are grateful for the coaching and expertise of the GNI and LION as we operationalize, grow and scale to meet the growing need for dedicated local news in our geographic area.
Mission: The Hingham Anchor is a hyper-local digital news and lifestyle resource produced by locals, for locals, in Hingham and South Shore Massachusetts in a fresh new way. Founded in 2019, the Anchor is Hingham’s go-to local news source, focused on serving all residents to create a more united community.
Interest in the Lab: We just shifted to a member-supported revenue model, and we are at a critical inflection point in our life cycle. We are excited to build a strong foundation to accelerate and amplify our work and impact.
Mission: To strengthen our shared information space and democracy with you.
Bay City News Foundation
Interest in the Lab: We recently completed the LION-GNI Sustainability Audit program, and all three of their top recommendations focused on revenue generation. Our primary goal is to improve our internal capacity to pursue revenue growth, with a focus on earned revenue from corporate sponsorships. Participating in this lab would help us determine the best next steps for this process, and will allow us to learn from other lab participants who may already have successful earned revenue strategies in place.
Mission: Bay City News Foundation serves the San Francisco Bay Area and is backed by charitable donations from contributors who care about local news, a free press, democratic values and an informed citizenry. We target geographic and topical news deserts. We collaborate with other media. We experiment with technology. We work with journalism schools to train the next generation of reporters.
Interest in the Lab: FY 2022 has served as a “possibility model” and market validation for the types of advertising partnerships that we can secure, as well as the appetite amongst our readers to financially support our work. Over the past year, we’ve built relationships with large and small advertisers, and are putting in place the systems to streamline reader revenue. This program will be the perfect set-up to develop the plans and operations to maximize our advertising and reader revenue growth in FY 2023.
Mission: Queerency is the leading source for LGBTQ+ business news. We’re building a world where LGBTQ+ people can be seen and heard in business media and our mission is simple: to offer possibility models for who queer people can be and what we can achieve.
Santa Cruz Local
Interest in the Lab: Santa Cruz Local is building a news product to serve Spanish speakers in Santa Cruz County. We want this program to size the opportunity and create a sustainable revenue plan that includes philanthropy and other sources.
Mission: Santa Cruz Local produces fair and accurate local journalism that holds power to account.
Interest in the Lab: In our second year, we’re ready to build on a foundation of powerful content and innovative structure by increasing and strengthening our revenue streams. We’re excited to work in partnership with GNI to develop the projects, products, and structure that will serve our coming growth. Rebuilding local news requires strong and strategic revenue processes and we’re ready to make it happen!
Mission: We are an innovative and trustworthy online news service that empowers our readers to engage in our community and strengthen our democracy.
Interest in the Lab: In less than a year, we have grown Southwest Voices into an indispensable source of news for our corner of the city. Our daily email newsletter hits more than 2,000 inboxes every morning (or 2 percent of the residents of our service area), and close to 7 out of every 10 who receive it open and read it. In other words, we have built a solid foundation for a sustainable news organization, and are ready to take the next step of building a thriving revenue operation on top of it. We’re excited to learn from others, as well as to draw from best practices gleaned from many newsrooms around the country (and the world) via the 2022 GNI Startups Lab.
Mission: Southwest Voices is a news and information service by and for the residents of Southwest Minneapolis. We believe our corner of the city deserves a news source that both celebrates its strengths and reveals its shortcomings so it can become a more welcoming and caring community. We believe that we, the residents of Southwest Minneapolis, are capable of telling our own story. We use email, text messaging, and other communications channels to cultivate a conversation with residents living in every neighborhood we cover. We report not just what’s happening in the community, but also what’s possible when everyone’s voice can be heard.
Springfield Daily Citizen
Interest in the Lab: We launched on February 14, 2022, and although we’re barely six months into our publishing journey, we’ve made rapid progress toward meeting or exceeding our 2022 revenue goals. At the same time, we know that enlarging our revenue base toward sustainability, especially in our market, will not be easy. As we look down the road five years, we feel this is an excellent time to engage in some reflection toward aggressively growing our revenue streams while (1) we still have some objectivity about the process, and (2) we’re still young enough to be able to pivot if we need to.
Mission: The mission of the Springfield Daily Citizen is to inform our community and be a catalyst for good. The vision of the Springfield Daily Citizen is to reinvent local news in Metro Springfield by telling the stories of our community, bringing issues to light, encouraging discourse and inspiring citizens to take action.
The Assembly NC
Interest in the Lab: The Assembly is in a real season of growth, and part of that includes developing a robust strategy for advertising, sponsorships and subscriptions. We want to really jumpstart that growth as we go into 2023, to support our expansion goals for the year ahead.
Mission: The Assembly is a digital magazine about the people, institutions, and ideas that shape North Carolina. Founded in 2021, we feature interesting, deeply reported, nuanced stories about our state.
Interest in the Lab: The Breach had great success with our initial sustainer campaign, and we have been publishing groundbreaking and agenda-setting investigations and analysis for a year now. We’re excited to level up our reader revenue goals and find ways to expand our audience.
Mission: The Breach brings together diverse collaborators to publish investigative journalism and analysis about political, social and economic processes in Canada with the intention of fueling social movements that can address crises, avert disasters and put forward a compelling vision of the future.
The Buckeye Flame
Interest in the Lab: The Buckeye Flame is still relatively new (~2 years) and we’re looking to lean into our nonprofit status and plan for the future.
Mission: The Buckeye Flame amplifies the voices of LGBTQ+ Ohioans to support community and civic empowerment through the creation of engaging content that chronicles our triumphs, struggles, and lived experiences.
The JOLT News Organization
Interest in the Lab: Although my background is in advertising sales, since launching The JOLT 27 months ago I’ve devoted most of my time to the editorial side. I want to learn more about ways we can generate revenue that are either continuing or renewable, such as events, as well as how to explain our place in our communities.
Mission: The JOLT nourishes the civic lives of Thurston County residents and grows community capacity by publishing accurate, relevant and entertaining stories that help people become better informed and more involved in local issues, events and activities.
The Kansas City Defender
Interest in the Lab: As the founder and sole staff member, my background is in web analytics, editorial, social media content production, and other areas more on the editorial side. While we have made tremendous strides in recent months regarding revenue growth, exponentially increasing our monthly recurring revenue/monthly donors, this remains the area I am least experienced in and what I believe is most urgently needed for our organization.
Mission: To produce information for the survival and flourishing of Black people, and to distribute it in innovative and accessible ways.
The Kerr County Lead
Interest in the Lab: To help me develop better long-range revenue opportunities.
Mission: A daily source of news for Kerrville, Kerr County and the Texas Hill Country.
Interest in the Lab: Tostada Magazine has built up an organic following, however, it needs support to realize sustainability. Specifically, Tostada needs to develop strategies to monetize some of its programming, in particular its forthcoming dining guide.
Mission: Tostada Magazine is a Detroit-based independent digital media company that was founded on the premise that food journalism has the power to unify communities and preserve culture. Since its launch in 2017, Tostada has published the work of dozens of journalists of color who uplift stories in their own communities and is part of a growing movement redefining how media approaches food journalism.
Planning for Revenue Growth Lab Coaches
Maria Archangelo is an enthusiastic, strategic and tactical leader with more than 20 years of experience with large and small for-profit and nonprofit media organizations, including Chalkbeat, the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, The Baltimore Sun, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Stowe (Vt.) Reporter and Waterbury Record and The (Barre-Montpelier, Vt.) Times Argus. Maria managed and developed local, regional, national and global teams ranging in size from 3 to 120. Strength areas include raising millions of dollars from foundations and individuals to power innovative journalism, creating new digital and print products, sales leadership, developing client relationships, earned revenue generation, editorial leadership, personnel management and strategic planning. She is a graduate of Times Mirror’s Leadership in Management Program.
Sam Gross is the co-founder of Stacker, a 60-person data journalism publisher that produces and syndicates stories to1,500+ publishers, including major networks like Hearst, Advance Local, and Tribune along with hundreds of independent news organizations. Sam leads newsroom product and strategy, focusing on expanding access to data-driven storytelling for partners while building alignment between revenue and coverage strategies. Prior to Stacker, Sam worked on the publisher partnerships team at Graphiq to provide interactive data visualizations to journalists.
Scott Rosenfield is the chief of staff to the CEO at The Atlantic. He sits at the intersection of advertising, subscriptions, product, audience, and editorial. He works deeply with the subscription and advertising teams to define their strategies and collaborates with product and engineering to bring them to reality. He helps lead the annual strategic planning and budgeting process. And he jumps in to push forward important cross-functional projects, such as the launch of subscriber-only newsletters. He was formerly the site director at WIRED. He was responsible for working with editors, product managers, designers, and audience development managers to lead WIRED’s digital publishing strategy. He had extensive experience working on advertising and subscription programs in this role. He helped launch a Games section and AI expansion, the Get WIRED app, a new podcast, audio experiences, and subscriber-only newsletters. He also championed an expansion of review and commerce coverage. Prior to joining WIRED, he worked at Outside magazine where he was focused on implementing strategies to diversify revenue and reach new audiences. He was responsible for developing new ad products, launching an affiliate program, introducing a subscription offering, and overseeing the redesign of the website. He also managed the audience development team. Rosenfield graduated from Northwestern University and is an avid cyclist and outdoor enthusiast.
Todd Stauffer is association manager and digital specialist for the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, responsible for general operations and as liaison to programs such as the GNI Ad Transformation Lab. From 2002-2022, he was co-founder and publisher of the Jackson Free Press in Jackson, Mississippi, overseeing sales and operations for the weekly print and daily web publication. Jackson Free Press, Inc. also generated revenue through events, seasonal glossy magazines, commercial printing and digital marketing agency services for clients. When JFP sold its journalism assets to the nonprofit Mississippi Free Press news organization, Todd renamed the company Changemaker Media Services, Inc, which offers digital marketing solutions and consulting for nonprofits and newsrooms.
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