Innovation & Solutions

From augmented reality to new revenue models, the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media is at the forefront of exploring innovation and providing solutions to established and emerging media organizations.

America’s media organizations are in an age of disruption, and revolutionary new technologies are forcing those in the news industry to radically recreate their business models in order to survive and thrive in this new digital age. The News Desert Project, led by Knight Chair Penny Muse Abernathy, not only documents the loss of news, but also researches potential innovations and solutions that can help local news organizations develop sustainable digital business models.

Our news deserts research has well-defined the dynamics, trends and causes of our industry’s challenges. Project Oasis brings us to the next step: where are the opportunities? We are partnering with the Google News Initiative, LION Publishers and Doug Smith for something completely new: we’ll be researching these digital news outlets that are beginning to emerge in communities hard hit by the changes with the hopes of making that knowledge shareable and replicable for a new generation of news publishers.

The Google News Initiative announced Project Oasis March 18, 2020, in a blog post from UNC CISLM Director Susan Leath:

At UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media’s Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media (UNC CISLM), our mission is to help local news organizations retool for the digital age. We continuously hear from publishers that achieving long-term sustainability requires a fundamental mindset shift, and new types of resources to help them succeed.

That’s why we’re partnering with the Google News Initiative (GNI), LION Publishers and Douglas K. Smith on Project Oasis: a research initiative focused on helping local news organizations navigate the complex choices they face in establishing and growing their digital business. The first step is to develop a database that maps the current landscape of digital native local news publishers in the U.S. and Canada. Then, through in-depth interviews with these local news site founders at key stages of growth, we will develop resources to help others grow, including a “Starter Pack” for aspiring entrepreneurs.