In 2021, a steering committee of local journalism, community and business leaders worked with the American Journalism Project to conduct a comprehensive statewide research study, working with 27 community ambassadors around Indiana and collecting input through text messaging and online surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Through the study, more than 1,000 Hoosiers across 79 counties said they needed more unbiased, fact-based information about their communities.
Out of those findings, a coalition of organizations in and around Indiana, local community leaders, and the American Journalism Project, partnered to launch Free Press Indiana, a new nonprofit organization with a mission to fill information gaps in the state. The coalition, which includes 11 philanthropies, has raised almost $10 million for the organization so far, and has formed a search committee that is conducting an open search for a founding leadership team.
The organization, which will be governed by a board that is representative of Indiana’s diverse communities, inclusive of race and ethnicity, gender, and political perspectives, is launching a robust, 25-person news organization in Central Indiana, facilitating investments in journalism outlets around the state, and fostering collaboration among Indiana outlets to amplify local journalism for all Hoosiers, especially underserved communities. It will have an innovative, community-focused structure, and work directly with residents to report on and elevate voices and stories from their own communities in addition to providing much-needed accountability and service journalism across critical topics. It will also house Indianapolis Documenters, a program that trains and pays residents to participate in news gathering. It will be sustained by a combination of philanthropy, membership, and sponsorships.
Information produced for communities by Free Press Indiana will be free to access, and is available for republishing. Its newsrooms will work in partnership with a growing list of outlets to amplify and increase the volume of relevant, original local reporting available to all residents.
Free Press Indiana is fiscally sponsored by the American Journalism Project.
Free Press Indiana is a new, nonprofit initiative formed by a coalition of locally-based organizations and the American Journalism Project. We are on a mission to ensure residents of Indiana have local news that is anchored in and reflective of the needs of the communities they serve.
News partners of Free Press Indiana will work together to serve all audiences of the state and close coverage gaps; have access to republish news and information produced by Free Press Indiana for the benefit of their audiences; and have access to resources and programs created or funded by the effort.
A group of Indiana civic leaders came together to lead a comprehensive statewide research study with the American Journalism Project, which showed Hoosiers need more unbiased, fact-based information about their communities.
“The for-profit model of funding local reporting is broken. Many Hoosiers are going without the news they truly need — they know it, and local officials know it. We urgently need new thinking, and that’s where Free Press Indiana comes in. Lumina Foundation is proud to be a lead investor in this groundbreaking effort.”
—Kevin Corcoran, Strategy Director, Lumina Foundation
“It’s especially encouraging to see that this effort is designed to fill gaps in existing media coverage with an emphasis on providing important content on particularly underserved topics. The bottom line is the success of this project will strengthen our democracy by better informing Hoosiers about topics important to them.”
—Mark Miles, President and CEO, Penske Entertainment Corp.
“Democracy at its very core is threatened when we lose our ability to understand our world and the issues affecting us all. The missing link is local news and this innovative Initiative goes a long way to diminish that threat.”
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