"I shuttered my own news startup. Here’s what journalism should learn from my experience." table of contents
- I shuttered my own news startup. Here’s what journalism should learn from my experience.
- What sustainability looked like for me, and when it changed:
- Closing Raleigh Convergence
- Operational lessons for the industry
- Insight: Events are journalism
- Insight: Let community members into your journalism
- Insight: Rethink the news article as the best way to deliver journalism
- Insight: Adopt cycles of engagement
I’m a news founder who has written my publication’s obituary. But in my three years running a hyperlocal digital news pub, I learned and experimented with new solutions to pressing issues in local journalism.
No one knows the exact formula for sustainable, relevant news that engages folks who are tuning out the news in larger numbers. I’m sharing what worked – and what didn’t – in hopes that these lessons are carried forward to a more reflective, equitable future for journalism.
Some takeaways can be adopted by new or legacy organizations addressing information needs:
- Events are journalism.
- Approaching journalism as a process can increase collaboration with community members
- It’s time to rethink the digital news article as the primary unit of journalism
- Adding in cycles of engagement to journalism process can produce more relevant results
There are critical issues within entrepreneurship in local news that Raleigh Convergence surfaces:
- Self-funding favors those founders with enough privilege for a long runway. We need more models for funding news startups beyond the minimum viable product and other methods popular in tech.
- Operational funding that provides a real runway beyond the startup phase is important for building a more equitable future.
- Founders must value their time for their organization to be sustainable.
A surge in new newsrooms started in the pandemic, and not all of them will last decades. Because of this, it must become more common for publications to end intentionally, versus implosions, slowly fading away or other exits that don’t serve the community. As more news organizations reach a natural end, we must grapple with how to preserve community trust.
Here’s how Raleigh Convergence handled it.
About Raleigh Convergence
Raleigh Convergence was a hyperlocal news publication that focused on Wake County, NC, from April 2019-April 2022.
Raleigh Convergence primarily reached audiences ages 25-44, parents, people who wanted to be more engaged locally and people without a news habit.
In its three years tenure, Raleigh Convergence centered community voices through an award-winning newcomer initiative, a successful eight-event live storytelling series and a pioneering new approach to cycles of listening for community-led editorial focus.
Revenue & support
Revenue sources included individual memberships, newsletter sponsorships, Instagram native advertising, grant funding, crowdfunding, corporate memberships, content strategy training and consulting.
Raleigh Convergence was a LION Publishers member and an LMA award-winning publication. It was a solopreneur effort with some freelance support. I’m a journalism veteran who worked at the nexus of new strategies in legacy news organizations for more than 11 years before pursuing this self-funded idea.