DEC 27, 2021

Imagining a new kind of news organization



Almost four years ago I took a new job and set out to revive Indian Country Today. I wrote at the time: “We can invent a new kind of news organization, one built on the currency of imagination.”

Wrong. I did not imagine nearly enough. Not. Nearly. Enough.

In those four years we grew from two people to three, then four. Then blink and we’re past 20. We expected to produce a daily digital newspaper. We never imagined a daily broadcast.

And, along the way, we learned to explore the limits of our craft. And to push the boundaries of what is possible for a news organization.

(A few highlights: Read ICT’s Top 10 Stories)

This year we created IndiJ Public Media, a nonprofit news company, led by Karen Michel. As a business we had a remarkable year. Remarkable, but not perfect because when the final numbers are counted we will end up with a net loss. The reasons were largely beyond our control, basically a rough transition from our previous ownership, and so we had to operate most of the year without a 501(c)3 nonprofit framework. That meant a lot of foundations – ones that are eager to help – could not do so while we waited for our structure to be in place. That’s now done and our fundraising for 2022 and beyond is gearing up.

We also beat a lot of expectations. Last year’s sponsorships and advertising exceeded our business plan at $600,000. And we budgeted $200,000 from individual donors and that amount will pass $300,000. We are grateful.

As we near the end of 2021 one more fundraising pitch. Over the past few weeks a number of foundations have agreed to match our donations from individuals. This means every dollar donated will grow immediately. As part of the Institute for Nonprofit News we have a match of $6,500, followed by another match from the Democracy Fund as part of its Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Partner Fund. That amount also totals $6,500. This bonus was made possible with support from Knight Foundation, Facebook Journalism Project, the Walton Family Foundation, and Democracy Fund.

So this is the perfect moment to contribute before 2021 ends. And, as they say in the midnight TV commercials, “that’s not all.”

Another donor, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation will add another $10,000 in matching funds.

So please consider an end of the year gift to ICT. This is how we change the media narrative – with our own nonprofit company.

Next year will be so exciting. Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Diné, takes over the helm as editor of ICT. And Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is shaping the broadcast as the new anchor. (And I have a writing project that I am eager to begin, a deep dive into Indigenous economics.)

The fact is we can invent a new kind of news organization, one built on the currency of imagination. And it’s time to take the limits off that imagination. Something we can do with your help.

Mark Trahant, editor, Indian Country Today