Leonard Witt shares some start-up smarts learnt from grassroots US journopreneurs.

Recently I was in Los Angeles with 32 other journalists, most of whom had left the mainstream media to start their own for-profit or nonprofit independent journalism enterprises. They came from American cities large and small to a training day run by Investigative News Network. Their mission: to find ways to sustain the journalism they love.

The consensus was that doing the journalism was the easy part, but figuring out how to monetise it was not so easy. We are in the same financial pickle as the mainstream media, but with fewer resources and a lot more targeted journalism.

Many of these journalists focus on highly specific markets. For example, Ruffin Prevost’s Yellowstone Gate covers just the Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Jesus Sanchez’s Eastsider primarily covers one neighborhood in Los Angeles and its About page says, “The Eastsider is Jesus Sanchez.”

Lynne DeLucia, a Pulitzer Prize winning former assistant editor at The Hartford Courant, is editor and co-founder of the Connecticut Health Investigative Team, which as its name implies, investigates the health industry in Connecticut, the tiny state just north of New York City.  

Others are bit more expansive geographically. For example, Diana Jean Schemo, former New York Times foreign correspondent and co-founder of 100Reporters, works to join “100 of the planet’s finest professional reporters with whistleblowers and citizen journalists across the globe, to report on corruption in all its forms.”

I started the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE.org) to cover youth justice in my home state of Georgia, but the hunger for this under-reported topic is so great that we soon expanded our mission to covering juvenile justice nationally. We are the only entity that does so every workday with professional journalists.  .... ...