Credit: Photo courtesy of Facebook Journalism Project

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In April, 2020, the nonprofit news industry site Poynter started tracking newsrooms that have shut down during the coronavirus pandemic. By the end of September, the number of closures had exceeded 60. That adds to a toll of some 1,800 newspapers and news sites that have shuttered in the past 15-odd years. 

Headline: News is a tough business and it’s getting tougher.

As a one-year-old digital news startup, Sahan Journal has been exploring how to fulfill (and expand) our nonprofit mission: delivering real, reported news about immigrants and refugees. To date, Sahan Journal has relied on a shifting variety of funding methods: reader support, grants, and advertising. 

We’re pleased, then, to share that Sahan Journal has been selected to join Facebook Journalism Project’s Sustainability Accelerator Program, in a cohort of 20 news operations that are owned and led by people of color from across the United States,

The 6-month Facebook program will offer participating newsrooms training and, perhaps, grant support to explore new revenue and audience-development strategies. According to Facebook, the program’s aim is to “enhance the long-term growth and sustainability of news organizations that are owned or led by Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and other people of color. Strengthening these newsrooms is an essential part of creating a more just and equitable media ecosystem and a more just and equitable society.”

News sites for and by and by people of color have often operated at a disadvantage, with limited access to investment capital, advertising, and technology. At the same time, they’ve offered authentic community coverage that has been ignored by mainstream media. 

The winners, Facebook announced, were chosen by Facebook staff, International Center for Journalists staff, and Accelerator coaches from more than 300 applications across the United States.

“We are honored to partner with this impressive group of publishers, whose newsrooms make a difference in their communities and serve as models for our industry,” said Joyce Barnathan, the president of ICFJ, an organization that helps news organizations become financially strong. “Without question, the work they do is critical, and an investment in their long term success is an investment in stronger communities.”

Some of the other participating newsrooms–such as El Mundo Boston and La Raza Chicago–have published in their communities for more than 50 years. Others–including The Miami Times and St. Louis American–have served African American readers for more a century.

After six months in the program, participants will be able to apply for grant funding from Facebook to implement new editorial initiatives and business programs.

Sahan Journal is the only independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit digital newsroom dedicated to providing authentic news reporting for and about immigrants and refugees in Minnesota.