MIAMI — Native News Online has been selected as one of 24 newsrooms nationwide to receive a $20,000 digital publishing grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
One of the most-read news sites covering Indian Country, Native News Online will use the grant to overhaul its website with an updated design and numerous other technical changes to make it more reader-friendly and more useful for marketers.
The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based publication also intends to expand its use of multimedia on the revamped site with projects involving photography, video, surveys and streaming technology. The publication plans to launch its new website and digital tools in July.
“We’re grateful for this opportunity and thankful for this grant funding from the Knight Foundation,” said Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi), editor and publisher of Native News Online. “Our vision is to celebrate Native voices and change the narrative about Indian Country by doing top-notch journalism that informs American Indians, Alaska Natives and non-Natives. The new website and digital publishing tools will help us achieve that vision.”
The grant is part of the Knight Foundation’s three-year, $2 million technology initiative to strengthen digital publishing solutions in newsrooms and help news organizations better serve their communities.
After a competitive application process, the first cohort of 24 newsrooms were selected to receive the grants for publishing tools that will help them improve distribution, community engagement and revenue opportunities, such as digital subscriptions and membership, according to a statement.
The first group includes a mix of nonprofit news organizations, small commercial community newspapers and new digital upstarts. Of the selected newsrooms, 58 percent are nonprofit organizations, 58 percent are led by or serve communities of color, and 42 percent are committed to delivering local journalism.
“Now, more than ever, it’s critical for newsrooms and publishers to adopt digital solutions that meet audiences where they are and provide new revenue opportunities,” Paul Cheung, Knight Foundation director for journalism and technology innovation, said in a statement. “These outstanding news organizations now have the opportunity to leverage technology to maximize their revenue and better serve their communities.”
To become sustainable and build trust in the communities they serve, news organizations need the tools to engage in the urgent discussions about race and equity with their users and deliver real-time updates on the coronavirus pandemic. Knight Foundation funding will help news organizations achieve these goals with the publishing tools that prioritize and enhance audience development, business development and editorial content production, according to a statement.
The selection of newsrooms was managed by News Revenue Hub, a nonprofit organization that works with more than 50 publishers on building membership revenue, growing audiences and developing sustainable business practices. In addition to receiving funding, selected newsrooms will access training sessions, led by the Hub, on using and leveraging business and audience development tools and strategies.
The 24 newsrooms were selected from an applicant pool of 140 news organizations. Led by News Revenue Hub, an expert panel of industry experts evaluated each application on the basis of application strength, grant utilization, and industry impact. For more on the Hub’s process, see this blog post.