The National Trust for Local News is a nonprofit dedicated to keeping local news in local hands.
We work with communities to catalyze the capital, new ownership structures, and business model transformations needed for established local and community news organizations to thrive and remain deeply grounded in their communities.
HOW WE BEGAN
Established in 2021, we are pioneering a new way for local communities to conserve, transform, and govern their sources of news.
In April 2021, we completed a pilot acquisition of a chain of 24 community newspapers in Colorado. In less than six months, we were able to identify the opportunity; raise local and national capital to support our acquisition; complete the purchase; enter into agreements with a local operating partner; create a shared governance body for the new entity; and hire a new publisher.
The success of this effort has generated more interest from other papers in the state and across the U.S. We are currently active in five states—all within our first year of operation.
HOW WE WORK
We are reestablishing vital local news at scale by transforming the ownership and capital structure of community news through targeted acquisitions and a locally-governed nonprofit “conservancy” model.
Like a land trust, we work in partnership with local communities to conserve and transform trusted local and community news organizations so that they can continue to serve their communities’ civic, cultural, and information needs for generations to come. Our work provides inclusive pathways for individuals and institutions to invest in the health of our local democracies.
The Trust's local news conservancies conserve, transform, and support legacy newspapers. They are created in partnership with anchor institutions that engage in the acquisition, transformation, and ultimately full community ownership of local news.
OUR WORK ENSURES NEWS ORGANIZATIONS ARE
We believe that local news should be in local hands. The Trust places the properties it acquires in nonprofit organizations, which are governed by a board of directors representative of and accountable to the communities served.
We place the news and information needs of the community above corporate profits. The news outlets we work with are committed to producing high-quality, nonpartisan, and civic-focused local news and remain independent of pressure from political or advocacy organizations.
Local news has the trust of its readers because the people who produce it live, work, and play in the communities they cover. We work with news outlets to ensure they are deeply engaged with the people whose stories are being told, that the reporting staff looks like the communities served, and that the way people get their news changes as their needs change.
We want local news to not just survive—we believe it can thrive. We bring new resources and the heft of our national network to the table. Our newsrooms have access to expert support as they transform their business models and their services in support of growing and diversifying their audience and revenue.
OUR PILOT FUND
Our Community Journalism Impact Fund I is designed to create and test a handful of next-generation models of sustainable community journalism, building on the incredible legacy of small community news titles still in existence across this country.
The Community Journalism Impact Fund I is a pilot, philanthropic fund designed to iterate and test our initial proof of concept in the context of three to five high-impact community journalism opportunities.
We have spent the first 18 months since our founding developing these investment opportunities for maximum learning and potential impact. The philanthropic nature of this first fund will allow us to focus on learning what conditions and investment strategies lead to impact in four potentially replicable models for community journalism. With this Fund, we are aiming for two levels of impact: news ecosystem impact and community impact.
Using the learnings from this first fund, we will be able to craft a tight impact and investment thesis to assemble a much bigger Community Journalism Impact Fund II.