Leaders from more than 20 statewide news organizations met on Monday, May 23, to kick off the Statewide News Collective, a new peer network supporting the editorial, revenue, and product operations of publishers that serve audiences across their states.
About 75 members of the Collective participated in the inaugural call and shared top-of-mind opportunities and challenges unique to statewide news organizations. The Collective was started through a collaboration of RevLab at The Texas Tribune, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, and Spotlight PA.
“We’re honored to be a part of this esteemed group of digital and nonprofit news pioneers,” said John Adams, executive director of Montana Free Press. “We’re eager to share our best ideas, successes, and failures, on both the news and business fronts, with our peers around the country. Likewise, we look forward to learning from them new tactics for establishing long-term sustainability for these vital statewide institutions.”
There are now 27 news organizations representing 25 states in the Collective. Participating organizations include:
- AZ Luminaria
- Bridge Michigan
- Carolina Public Press
- Colorado Sun
- CT Mirror
- Enlance Latino NC
- Flatwater Free Press
- Honolulu Civil Beat
- Mississippi Free Press
- Mississippi Today
- Montana Free Press
- Mountain State Spotlight
- NC Health News
- The Nevada Independent
- New York Focus
- Oklahoma Watch
- Sahan Journal
- Searchlight New Mexico
- Spotlight PA
- The Texas Tribune
- The Maine Monitor
- The Salt Lake Tribune
- Wisconsin Watch
Opening discussions focused on developing new audiences, expanding product offerings, diversifying revenue streams, and supporting distributed workforces. Participants identified the following core questions for further exploration across their operations:
- Audience: How do statewide publishers engage untapped or underserved audiences and meet their information needs in an equitable way? Are there opportunities to widen the top of the funnel and reach audiences beyond highly engaged readers already invested in state coverage? What are effective republishing strategies to partner with local news organizations?
- Product: Can members prioritize and share news products, build news products for portability at a low cost, and share information on new and useful tools and technology?
- Revenue: How can members share information and best practices on fundraising messaging and tactics? What are some strategies to expand donor bases and membership? How should publishers approach donor stewardship and retention across their states? What’s the best way to track and report impact to funders? How can publishers leverage editorial events as money makers?
- People and culture: How can publishers build organizational culture in a new era of distributed and remote workforces? What’s the best way to manage growing staffs and facilitate training when employees are spread across an entire state? How can news organizations advance diversity, equity, and representation in recruitment and retention of employees? How do news organizations grow while managing burnout?
Lenfest Institute Program Manager Allie Vanyur also shared survey data outlining the composition of the Collective, noting that 92% of participating members are nonprofit organizations and top areas of particular interest for exploration are major gift fundraising and membership.
“The participating organizations are as diverse as the states they serve, but there are overlapping issues that they all face, most notably the expansiveness of covering an entire state and how that shows up in nearly every aspect of their work from reporting, to staffing, to audience development,” Vanyur said.
The Statewide News Collective is open to news organizations with statewide editorial and business strategies that currently provide news and information to their audiences and partner news organizations. The Collective includes organizations that have core coverage around their state capitol and legislature, serve unique populations, or cover specific topics for a statewide audience. Both nonprofit and for-profit organizations are invited to participate.
Statewide News Collective programming continues in June with a four-part series on major gift fundraising through a statewide lens. The Collective will also facilitate a discussion series on election news strategies and products for a statewide audience. Series and discussions are facilitated by the RevLab at The Texas Tribune and Lenfest Institute teams. All programs are free of charge and open to designated members of the Statewide News Collective. Publishers interested in joining the Statewide News Collective are invited to fill out this interest form or to email [email protected]