If you can establish a new news company in the midst of a pandemic, you’re making a business built for hard times.
I want to use this session to explore the experience of establishing a new local news site, hiring staff, and acquiring funding during the COVID-19 pandemic. Coronavirus has brought tremendous hardship to local communities and news companies in particular. Businesses built and launched during this time have had to plan for the unexpected and be ready for things to always get worse. Funders are frightened, advertisers are pulling out, potential staff are jumpy about taking on new jobs and you can’t even have a happy hour to engage the community. What is a startup to do?
I’m living this experience in building The Longmont Leader in Colorado, and I know of others doing the same in their communities (but I haven’t asked them to join this yet).
I think this is a worthwhile discussion because in launching businesses now, these news startups by necessity, have to improvise, be responsive to shifting conditions, and build plans and teams that are resilient. The lessons of these new businesses should be applicable to anyone – in digital startups and legacy newsrooms alike – who is trying to adapt to constant change and recover lost business in the wake of COVID-19.
- Mandy Jenkins
General Manager/Publisher, The Compass Experiment