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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

In the next 12–18 months, States Newsroom, a nonprofit company that supports a group of state capital-based, independent newsrooms, will expand to cover up to 20 more states, executives tell Axios.

Why it matters: Its efforts are the latest in a string of investments into revitalizing coverage of state governments across the country.

  • Coverage of local government and state municipalities has been hit particularly hard in the local news crisis. Between 2003 and 2014, there was a 35% drop in statehouse reporting specifically.

Details: On Tuesday, States Newsroom, which is backed by non-disclosed donors, will launch its newest local outfit in Minneapolis called the Minnesota Reformer, led by J. Patrick Coolican, who recently left the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

  • Other states that the company is looking to expand to include Louisiana, Tennessee, Kansas, New Hampshire and Montana, says Chris Fitzsimon, director and publisher of States Newsroom.
  • "Our funding model is a bit different than traditional for-profit and even nonprofit media outlets. All of our work is free," says Fitzsimon. "We will never put content behind a paywall or create a roadblock to readers like a subscription service for premium content. We don't run ads of any kind."

By the numbers: To date, States Newsroom has opened 14 news operations in states including Virginia, Arizona, Michigan, Maine and Maryland.

  • The entire company employs nearly 60 reporters and editors. By the end of 2020, they plan to have more than 80 on staff between state capitals and its D.C. office. Each newsroom has three to four reporters and editors.

Between the lines: Most of the reporters and editors hired to work at States Newsroom outlets are veterans of the local paper from that particular city.

  • For example, States Newsroom launched the Iowa Capital Dispatch last week, led by veteran Iowa journalist Kathie Obradovich, formerly the politics editor of the Des Moines Register, where she had been for the past 16 years.

The big picture: There's a lot of nonprofit and philanthropic interest in journalism right now, particularly targeted toward state capitals.

  • AP and Report for America announced last month that they would place 14 reporters in state legislatures across the country.
  • ProPublica said in 2018 that it would expand its Local Reporting Network to focus on accountability journalism on state governments and state politics.

Yes, but: As a nonprofit, Fitzsimon says States Newsroom "doesn't accept corporate donations or underwriting, just philanthropic donations." While Axios research has verified that the websites run by States Newsroom are indeed independent, Fitzsimon won't disclose who the company's donors are.

Go deeper:

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that States Newsroom will expand to cover up to 20 states (not at least 20 new states).

Go deeper

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

53 mins ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.

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