Jul 9, 2019 - Economy & Business

Progressive non-profit ACRONYM to invest $1M in local media effort

ACRONYM, a progressive non-profit, will announce Tuesday that it plans to invest over $1 million in "The Dogwood," a new hyper-local digital news site that caters to residents of Virginia, over the next two years.

Why it matters: It's the latest effort made by the progressive community to counter the rise of conservative media voices that it feels is filling the void of dying local news outlets.

“The steady decline of local news around the country, paired with the rise of misinformation being spread online has been alarming. It is our hope that digital newspapers like The Dogwood that deliver factual information and stories to people where they get their news can help fill that void and counter misinformation reaching them online."
— Tara McGowan, CEO and founder of ACRONYM, in a statement

Details: The Dogwood is owned by the for-profit FWIW Media. While it's non-partisan, ACRONYM says it's investing to help ensure that the news that spreads in that locality is accurate.

  • The Dogwood, which is named after the state tree and flower of Virginia, launched earlier this year. It currently employs four-time editorial staffers in Richmond and Arlington and has been reporting on local Virginia stories since April.
  • The company plans to hire more editorial staffers with the new investment.
  • Its editorial staff is led by Meghan McCarthy, who was a cofounder at Morning Consult and a reporter at CQ Roll Call and Atlantic Media.
  • The company covers a range of topics, like politics, the economy, education, transportation, entertainment, and more. It mostly leverages social media to distribute its content.

Between the lines: ACRONYM has invested in other for-profit companies, like Shadow Inc., a political technology company based in Denver, and Lockwood Strategy, a digital consulting firm based in Washington, D.C.

  • McGowan says that the reason ACRONYM invests in these types of for-profit companies is to be able to build a better modern digital infrastructure within the progressive movement.
  • "For too long, most of innovation within communication in politics occurs within big campaigns. We invest in companies so we can build that infrastructure outside of the campaign cycles."

The big picture: The news comes amid reports that Think Progress, a progressive news site founded by non-profit, Center for American Progress, is up for sale.

  • The Center for American Progress Action Fund's executive director told The Daily Beast that this was in response to the difficult advertising climate for digital publishers.
  • McGowan notes non-profits are investing in for-profit news efforts, in part to help to find business solutions for progressive or non-partisan media companies to succeed.

Whats next: ACRONYM says it plans to invest in other state-based news properties in the coming months, which could include states such as Arizona, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

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