What is the Houston Local News Initiative?

In an effort to enhance the region’s journalism ecosystem and answer the community’s calls for additional news coverage, three of Houston’s leading philanthropies—Houston Endowment, the Kinder Foundation, and Arnold Ventures—are launching an independent nonprofit news operation in Houston that will emerge as one of the largest in the country.

With an anticipated launch in late 2022 or early 2023 on multiple platforms, the new nonprofit news organization will elevate the voices of Houstonians and address the needs of the community. Its wide-ranging coverage will be available for free to readers as well as other news organizations.

Why does Greater Houston need a nonprofit news organization?

The project is the culmination of two years’ worth of research for which the American Journalism Project conducted surveys, interviews and focus groups with residents of Greater Houston, through which we heard many residents of Greater Houston do not feel they have access to the trustworthy, deeply reported, representative local information they need for their daily lives.

Nonprofit news models are able to address such needs, because they benefit from philanthropic support in addition to audience and commercial revenue sources. They are free to collaborate with existing news organizations, and take their cues from the communities they serve. This gives nonprofit newsrooms the ability to develop reporting based solely on what matters most to their communities, to stay on stories as they develop, and keep reporting on issues until they reach resolution, while reaching residents where they are with the news and information that matters most to them.

What will the news site be called?

The name will be decided by the founding leadership team that will be selected by the organization’s search committee.

How much will it cost to subscribe?

There are no subscriptions. We will provide information without barriers. Coverage will be distributed without paywalls or subscription requirements.

When will the newsroom begin producing stories?

The search committee will begin the process of hiring a CEO and Editor-in-Chief immediately, with the goal of beginning operations in late 2022 or early 2023.

What issues will be covered?

Coverage will focus on issues about which local communities care most, such as housing, environment, education and health. Enterprise reporting will hold those in power accountable but will focus on solutions for local issues.

Will the Houston Local News Initiative compete with other news outlets?

No. It will have a different business model. The organization will seek to join forces with other news outlets to maximize the amount of relevant, contextual original reporting available to all residents of the greater Houston area.

How will the organization work with local communities?

Our top priority will be to earn the trust from the communities we serve through two-way relationships. We will pursue innovative models and emerging best practices in engaging community members to help inform the newsroom’s priorities. It will strive to be the center of conversation about Houston’s critical issues, bridge communities, and foster community engagement, while building a vibrant and active following.

Summary:

With an anticipated launch in late 2022 or early 2023 on multiple platforms, the new nonprofit news organization will elevate the voices of Houstonians and address the needs of the community. Its wide-ranging coverage will be available for free to readers as well as other news organizations.