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Berkeleyside founders Lance Knobel, Frances Dinkelspiel and Tracey Taylor. Photo credit: Tippett Studio

A new Oakland, California-based journalism venture will launch next spring with $1.56 million in funding from the Google News Initiative (GNI), executives tell Axios. It has also raised $1.56 million from the American Journalism Project, a new, well-funded venture philanthropy nonprofit focused on local news.

Why it matters: It's the third local news organization that Google has funded this year as part of its larger $300 million effort to support journalism.

  • Unlike previous projects Google has previously backed, this initiative isn't serving a small town. Oakland has 425,000 residents and sits in Google's back yard.

Yes, but: Like many other cities across the country, Oakland finds itself reeling from the economic crisis in local news.

  • In 2016, the Bay Area News Group (BANG) merged six daily newspapers into 2 publications, leaving Oakland without its own daily newspaper. The Oakland Tribune became a part of the East Bay Times, along with several nearby local papers.
  • Bay Area News Group (BANG) is owned by Digital First Media, a local media conglomerate, which is owned by media hedge fund Alden Global Capital. Reports surfaced this year suggesting BANG was bracing for significant layoffs.

Details: The publication will launch as a website next spring with eight editorial staffers. The team plans to launch a newsletter and is exploring other mediums, like podcasts. Its name is to be determined.

  • It's being launched by the same leadership team behind Berkeleyside, a local news outlet in Oakland's neighbor town.
  • The site's editorial team will be led by editor-in-chief Tasneem Raja, a former senior editor at NPR and Mother Jones. She said she received written assurance that Google would have no input whatsoever into editorial decisions:
  • The business model will be a mix of non-profit donations, live experiences and underwriting from corporations.

The big picture: These news outlets are part of a trend in local media toward the non-profit model, which allows them to accept donations while still selling commercial sponsorships or advertising.

  • The move coincides with Berkeleyside’s conversion to a new nonprofit organization. The team is forming a new to-be-named umbrella non-profit organization, which will oversee both Berkeleyside and the new to-be-named Oakland property. The team has plans to expand this non-profit umbrella elsewhere.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 4: Trump turns on Barr

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Drew Angerer, Pool/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 4: Trump torches what is arguably the most consequential relationship in his Cabinet.

Attorney General Bill Barr stood behind a chair in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, looming over Donald Trump. The president sat at the head of the table. It was Dec. 1, nearly a month after the election, and Barr had some sharp advice to get off his chest. The president's theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were "bullshit."

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters gathered outside fortified statehouses across the U.S. over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
9 hours ago - World

China's economy grows 6.5% in Q4 as country rebounds from coronavirus

A technician installs and checks service robots to be be used for food and medicine delivery in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, China, on Sunday. Photo: Hu Xuejun/VCG via Getty Images

China's economy grew at a 6.5% pace in the final quarter of 2020, the national statistics bureau announced Monday local time, topping off a year in which it grew in three of four quarters and by 2.3% in total.

Why it matters: No other major economy managed positive growth in 2020. Although the COVID-19 pandemic was first detected in China, the country got the virus under control and became one of the main positive drivers of the global economy even as the rest of the world was largely under lockdown.