Journalism with local impact

The Local News Accelerator supports digital innovation in local journalism’s editorial and business models around the world.

Join us

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Deadline

Applications will go through July 7, 2024 at 11:59 p.m.

The Basics

IPI’s Local News Accelerator is a four-month programme where you and your organization will build the foundations to develop a financially and editorially sustainable local media business. The programme, already in its second edition, will offer personalized advisory services, tools and guidance to help you reach audiences and empower your teams to grow into an engaged, responsive media brand during and after the accelerator.

Why apply?

The accelerator has been designed to support local newsrooms getting started or pivoting their business with the structure and support to identify and deliver solutions that will advance their projects toward financial and editorial sustainability. From our work with local, regional and niche publishers, we understand the key challenges you’re facing. IPI’s in-house experts will therefore conduct a comprehensive one-on-one needs assessment and provide guidance and personalized advisory services for successful applicants to maximize their benefits from the programme.

How does it work?

The format is based on IPI’s innovation learning journey, piloted through our 2023 Local News Accelerator, in which publishers from around the world, including Indonesia, Ecuador, Uganda, South Africa and more, achieved measurable benefits such as growth in readership, doubling of subscribers, building new onboarding tools and engagement channels and launching membership models with impactful crowdfunding campaigns. One key benefit communicated repeatedly from the group was that connections among the cohort allowed them to build a community with media in similar situations and share ideas.

>> Learn about our 2023 Local News Accelerator participants and their success stories here.

 

Key Activities

  • One month of direct needs assessments to identify your challenge, problem statement and roadmap solutions.
  • Intensive training focused on tools and skills that can be transferred to your newsroom well beyond the duration of the accelerator, focused on problem solving and identifying solutions, audience research, strategic planning, journalism formats built for user engagement, digital business models and diversifying revenue models.
  • One-on-one personalized advisory services bespoke to the needs of your newsroom, with flexible, on-demand industry-experts as coaches during the accelerator.
  • Access to a networking platform with the current cohort, expert coaches, all programme alumni and a network of local news practitioners.
  • Access to an e-learning platform with training modules and recordings from industry-leaders. Monthly “Ask-Me-Anything” sessions allowing attendees to directly pose questions to industry experts.
  • Group coaching sessions with peers developing similar projects.
  • Speaker sessions based on themes determined in the needs assessments.

Content

Kick off (Sep, 2024)
>Needs Assessment
>One-on-one meetings with IPI
>Introductory meeting
>Participants introduce projects, meet IPI and coaches

 

Module 1 (Sep, 2024)
>Speaker session
>Trends in media Innovation
>Group feedback session
>One-on-one and group coaching
>Innovation and product thinking

 

Module 2 (Oct, 2024)
>Audience research and community
>Speaker session
>Building and scaling digital magazines
>Group feedback session
>One-on-one and group coaching

 

Module 3 (Nov, 2024)
>Digital business models and diversifying revenue streams
>Speaker session #1
>Newsletters and reader revenue
>Speaker session #2
>Membership and crowdfunding
>Group feedback session
>One-on-one and group coaching

 

Wrap up (Dec, 2024)
>Closing meeting
>Storytelling

Selection Criteria and Eligibility

  • You should be a media organization (no geographic limitations) and demonstrate a clear focus on serving local audiences, with news tailored to the specific needs of the local community.
  • Your organization should demonstrate a commitment to producing quality original journalism, adherence to ethical journalism practices and commitment to press freedom.
  • You must submit a proposal outlining a specific need and solution (Note: it is anticipated that this project will change or evolve during the accelerator period). Here you can read about the projects some of our previous participants developed throughout the programme.
  • Your organization must have a team of at least two individuals who are willing to commit to accelerator activities throughout the four months (this is estimated at a time commitment of four hours per week, divided between the team of two).
  • Your media venture should have a solid business case and understanding of their audience, backed up by audience or market research.
  • Your media should demonstrate a willingness to explore and implement new ideas, tools and technologies to enhance storytelling and audience engagement, while learning from experts and each other.
  • Your media should have a clear vision for the future of their media organization, including plans for how they will grow, expand and/or adapt.

Selection Process and Timeline

Apply by submitting the application form below. Applicants can save the application form by clicking “save” and return to it until they have completed it and are ready to submit. They will be emailed a link to their application, which they can return to until 7 July 2024 [23:59, CEST] . Once the application is submitted, it can no longer be edited.

Only applications in English received via the Jotform platform by the stated date and time will be considered. You will receive an email confirmation of your submission. A jury comprised of internally appointed experts will select the projects to participate in the accelerator.

Applications will be assessed based on the criteria established in the call. If you’re not sure if you’re eligible, contact [email protected] or sign up for our upcoming info session here. Past experience shows how important it is to build a diverse cohort and we encourage you to reach out if this sounds interesting to you!

Apply now

For preparation only, please find in this Google Doc all the questions of the form below. You can make a copy of the document. The Google Doc is not needed for the application, it is just a resource to help you prepare to fill the form below.


The Local News Accelerator is made possible with support from the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF).


FAQ ABOUT THE LOCAL NEWS ACCELERATOR

Run by IPI, the Accelerator supports digital transformation in local journalism by providing coaching and training. It will bring newsrooms along a media-first design and innovation journey, focusing on supporting newsrooms’ editorial, technology and business strategies. Over a four month-period, the project team will work closely with each newsroom to coach and provide the necessary resources to implement its transformational business or product strategy. The Local News Accelerator will provide training and coaching for two types of projects:

  • The development of audience-centric products or services, with a focus on news gathering, crowd-sourcing revenues, and the creating or distribution of an outlet’s reporting with the goal of revenue diversification and building deeper engagement with target audiences. 
  • Strategy for digital transformation in an existing newsroom or other organizational plans leveraging innovation for sustainability and increased competitiveness that ultimately grow the quality of independent news ecosystems worldwide.
The Accelerator consists of five main activities:

  • An introductory meeting: Here, all selected participants of the accelerator will exchange information in a video conference about their projects, set and share audience, newsroom and business goals, and meet the accelerator trainers, coaches and other experts.
  • Structured learning phase: A series of training sessions, consisting of pre-recorded online lectures by prominent media experts and subsequent  “Ask-Me-Anything” sessions with the trainers. The lectures will cover:
  • Human-centered design for local journalism
  • Practical audience research methods for local news
  • Product management skills and methods for local journalism
  • How to diversify revenue: identify and build philanthropy, sponsorships, events, programmatic advertising, branded content, digital subscriptions, advertising to businesses, nonprofits and governments, and more
  • Reader revenue: how to successfully implement a membership, subscription and/or donation mode
  • The latest in storytelling formats
  • Audience engagement – from surveys and comments to subscribers and CRM management 
  • How to pitch your media to partners, funders and investors
  • One-on-one coaching:Accelerator participants will be offered one-on-one coaching sessions with experienced newsroom practitioners and trainers. Each participant will be paired with coaches that are able to provide the most value in terms of skills- and knowledge gaps identified in the needs-assessment. The participants are expected to attend coaching sessions biweekly.  
  • Guest speakers:Throughout the accelerator, participants will be exposed to the latest innovations in journalism delivery and business diversification from experienced leaders in the industry. 

Additionally, accelerator participants will be expected to produce and publish a promotional or descriptive post or story that describes what went right or wrong in their innovation journey. This can be in the form of an individual or series of stories, podcasts, videos, newsletters or other journalistic formats. The journalistic product can be related to the accelerator in one of two ways:

  • It highlights how the organization applied the learning on innovation in their newsroom;  
  • An editorial informing readers about the changes the organization went through in the accelerator, explaining how these changes will better serve its audiences.
The Local News Accelerator is open to small to mid-sized local newsrooms  seeking to transform their journalism, products or business by investing in audience research, experimenting with new revenue models, deepening audience engagement, or investing in new content and distribution products based on user needs, among other strategies. Newsrooms are welcome to apply if they have:       

  • a clearly identified challenge or problem they want to solve; 
  • a plan on how to address the challenge or problem they face;
  • recently conducted audience research or other market testing activities;
  • willingness and a plan to reach out to new audiences with quality content. 

To apply, you must have a team of two staff members declared that will participate through the accelerator’s duration of four months.

The Local News Accelerator takes place for four months. Participants will have the opportunity to extend mentorship and will remain involved in the network.
10 newsrooms will be selected to participate in the Local News Accelerator.

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