Apply to the Independent News Challenge

The Discourse is sharing what we’ve learned, and mobilizing our resources to help journalist entrepreneurs and small publishers grow.

*Given recent layoffs across the country we have decided to extend the application deadline to Nov. 29, 2019.

The Discourse’s Independent News Challenge is a nine-week program where we are sharing what we’ve learned, mobilizing our resources, and rolling up our sleeves to help entrepreneur journalists and small publishers grow.

Are you a journalist with an idea for a project or a new outlet but don’t know where to start? Are you a small publisher filling a gap in coverage but feel like you’re not realizing your full potential? We are particularly interested in supporting BIPOC journalists and founders. 

Not sure if this is for you? Email to schedule a phone call. Or fill out the survey at the bottom of this page by Nov. 29 to apply.

What do you get?

The short answer is that it depends on what you need. We will start by working together to assess your editorial strategy, audience and funding. The goal? To identify a specific opportunity to grow your audience and/or funding in a short time frame by leveraging resources The Discourse can bring to the table. 

Second, we’ll work together to rapidly execute a specific project with two objectives: (1) grow, or attract your first audience and funding; and (2) rapidly test your hypothesis about the opportunity in a way that informs your next steps and growth plans.

At the end of the program, we’ll collaboratively analyze the results and produce a brief report that summarizes the results and lessons from the project and recommendations for the future. You can share this document with funders to generate support and with other media that want to learn from your experiment.

So what, specifically, can The Discourse offer? Over the years, we’ve developed many resources that may help you. Here are some things we can bring to the table depending on your needs:

  • Training on engagement strategies to identify and listen to your audiences, to inform your editorial strategy 
  • Digital marketing expertise and resources to grow your audience
  • Technology to get a new product off the ground quickly, test demand or generate revenue from your audience
  • Consulting on editorial and newsletter strategy to deepen loyalty with your audience
  • Funding planning, contacts and coaching to generate proposals to foundations and other funding opportunities
  • Capacity and expertise to help you plan and execute a crowdfunding campaign or membership program
  • A micro-grant to help pay for costs associated with your project

This is not only about learning what you need to know to grow a small independent news outlet. As journalist entrepreneurs ourselves, we understand that in order to succeed you need to focus on producing great journalism that responds to your audience’s needs. That’s why The Discourse team will roll up our sleeves to help make this project happen alongside you.

That sounds too good to be true. What’s in it for The Discourse?

The Discourse’s mission is to contribute to a healthier democracy with community-powered journalism. And while we’re proud of what we’ve achieved through our own reporting, we know we can’t solve this problem alone. We want to see the number of independent journalists who are serving their communities grow faster than what we can do by growing our newsroom in the traditional way. Our ultimate goal is to have a larger impact than we can on our own.

We sought funding from our partners including the Facebook Journalism Project and the Inspirit Foundation so we could offer this support to journalists at no cost.

We also want to learn from this experiment. Our hypothesis is that small independent newsrooms can grow faster by collaborating with one another to pool resources. We want to learn what kind of resources other media want and how we might all go further, together.

How do I get involved?

We want to hear from both independent journalists who have an idea they haven’t yet launched and small teams that are already publishing. We are particularly interested in connecting with journalists with roots in, or an explicit commitment to serving underrepresented communities. The program will be designed collaboratively with individual people’s specific needs in mind, which is why the criteria for applying is broad. 

Fill out this survey before Nov. 29 to apply.

  • (Max 150 words)
  • Max 150 words.
  • Max 100 words.
  • Thanks so much for taking the time to apply!

    We'll be in touch soon.


This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Scroll to Top