Guide to Applying

We're looking for people who share our mission and vision for a world where everyone has a role to play in creating relevant, accurate and culturally conscious local news and information.

We seek to empower founders from all kinds of backgrounds, education levels, professional experiences, lived experiences with ideas for how to serve the news and information needs of their community.

Our Eligibility Requirements

Founder

  • You are at least 18 years of age.
  • You are an individual or small group of individuals.
  • You are based in the United States.
  • You live in or are part of the community you seek to serve.
  • At least one person on your team is able to use materials in English. (We are working to get our materials translated.)
  • You are able to participate remotely via the internet.
  • You are not in the business of lobbying or creating content on behalf of a political candidate, politician, or political entity.
  • You do not work for a state, local, or municipal government entity and are not a member of Congress.

Organization

  • The organization is new.
  • The organization is intended to be a permanent business serving the information needs of a geographic community. (Not a pop-up newsroom or temporary reporting project.)
  • The organization cannot exclusively be a service for news publications (such as a news wire).
  • The organization cannot be a legacy publication making a digital transition.

Beyond these base requirements, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what makes someone a good fit for the future of local news that we want to help build.

Who is the ideal Tiny News founder?

  • You are immersed and connected to the community you want to serve.
  • You continually seek to understand and adapt to the information needs of your community
  • You have a vision for how you would approach serving the community
  • You understand the journalistic ethics involved in operating a news business
  • You are accountable for and prepared to strategize and grow the business and team
  • You are open to learning and sharing resources with fellow founders in the Collective
  • You understands your organization’s role in the ecosystem; record correction, record creation, community connecting, information needs, accountability, narrative shift, etc

What is the ideal Tiny Newsroom?

  • It is built and managed to be a sustainable business
  • It’s operated with the ambitions to grow beyond a one-person operation
  • It operates as a transparent and ethical publisher of news and information
  • It is responsive to the information needs of the community in which it serves
  • It operates with a build-test-learn mentality to reach and maintain sustainability and serve audience needs
  • It works to be reflective of the community in which it’s based through its staff, journalism and organizational policies

Readiness Series & Application Support

Our application isn’t a matter of figuring out if a founder or group of founders are “good enough” for us. It’s about us figuring out if we’re the right next step for you. Our application is designed so that even if you don’t end up choosing to join us, the thinking and planning you do for the application will be useful to you as you move forward with starting your news organization.

Through our application process you create a community canvas reflecting on the information needs of your community; develop a lean business plan charting your course as a company; articulate your values when it comes to ethics, transparency, diversity; and explain your vision for your business.

We don’t expect you to do this all by yourself. Over the course of the weeks leading up to the application open periods, we host a variety of support options to help you feel ready for the application and interview.

AMA

We’ll be hosting general Ask Me Anything sessions during the month of March. We’ll also be hosting an AMA specifically to explain the legal and contractual aspects of the collective so you have the opportunity to make sure you understand every aspect of joining the collective.

AMA Schedule

March 4: 11-12 p.m. PT / 2-3 p.m. ET

March 11: 11-12 p.m. PT / 2-3 p.m. ET

March 25: 11-12 p.m. PT / 2-3 p.m. ET

April 2 - Legal AMA: 12-1 p.m. PT / 3-4 p.m. ET

Office Hours

Members of our team are available during office hours each Wednesday in March from 8 - 10 am PT / 11 - 1 pm ET. You can sign up for a slot here. You can use this time to ask questions 1-1 about the collective or your application.

Workshops

#BuildTheNews Community Canvas

As part of our application process, we’re asking you to complete a Community Information Canvas designed by our partners at Outlier Media. This canvas will help guide you through thinking about the information needs of your community, the challenges to meeting them and aspects of your community that will help you overcome these barriers.

We’ll be hosting a workshop on doing this canvas on March 12 at 9 am PT / 12 pm ET. (You must RSVP to receive a link to the Zoom)

#BuildTheNews Lean Business Plan Canvas

The other canvas is our Lean Business Plan Canvas designed by TNC Product Manager Mariko Lochridge. This canvas is designed to help you think through the business aspect of starting and growing your organization.

We’ll be hosting a workshop on doing this canvas on March 19 at 9 am PT / 12 pm ET. (You must RSVP to receive a link to the Zoom)

Explanation of Application

Our application has 3 parts.

Part I

Part I of the application covers eligibility criteria and a few questions to help us get to know you and understand where you are in the process of creating your organization. Each founder needs to submit answers to these questions.

Part II

Part II gets into your (and your co-founders) thinking thus far in terms of who your organization will serve, how you will approach the operation as business and as a news organization. We need one set of answers per organization. This section includes the business canvas and the community canvas.

Community Canvas

The community canvas is a thinking exercise that will help you consider the different aspects of your community’s information needs, the challenges in meeting them and how your organization can fill a role in doing so. The canvas is the product of the expertise of Outlier Media, who are leaders in the work of understanding community information needs and developing strategies to meet them.

Business Canvas

We’ve designed a 3-part lean business plan to be the first step in guiding you towards creating a financially sustainable business model. The left side is your audience and helps to guide editorial decisions so that your work will have impact and be meaningful. The right side will help guide your business so that you can take first steps towards establishing a foundation that will lend itself to operational resilience. Finally the middle section of prompts is meant to help you articulate your concept to others as well as give you space to be honest with yourself around if you truly want and/or are truly ready to start down this path of entrepreneurship with the Tiny News Collective. This canvas is the product of the experience of our Product Manager Mariko Lochridge, an experienced small business consultant and former full time journalist.

Part III

Part III is demographic information designed to help us assess and improve our efforts. We request that each founder submit answers to these questions.

If you have co-founders

Each founder with your organization should submit an application through our form. We request individual answers from each founder for Part I and Part III. Only one founder needs to submit your answers for Part II.

The application form has a text box for Organization Name - City, State. We’ll use this field to connect your applications into one packet. Please make sure that everyone on your team uses the same name for this field.

Application Question Worksheet

To help you plan your application, we’re made a worksheet with all of the application questions and a short explanation of why we’re asking the question so you have some insight into what we’d like to learn from your answer. As we’ve said before, this application is about making sure the collective can support you where you are in your journey. We want you to feel fully prepared and supported in applying.

The worksheet is available via a Google Doc template in ‘View Only’ mode. You can click ‘File’ and ‘Make a Copy’ to create your own copy to work in (and collaborate with your co-founders on).

Tiny News Collective Application Worksheet

Checklist for applying

  • I have read the FAQ.
  • I meet all of the eligibility requirements.
  • I have reviewed the readiness series to prepare for the application.
  • If I have co-founders, I have collaborated with them to prepare our application.
  • I have made use of the application worksheet and explanations to prepare to submit my application. I have it open and ready to fill out the application.
  • I understand that starting a news organization is a big commitment and I am ready.

Applications are now closed for the pilot cohort of the Tiny News Collective. Stay tuned for announcements regarding the next application cycle.

The Tiny News Collective is a collaborative project.

Questions? Fill out our form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.