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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

5 hours ago - World

Top general: U.S. losing time to deter China

Stanley McChrystal. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Stanley McChrystal, a top retired general and Biden adviser, tells Axios that "China's military capacity has risen much faster than people appreciate," and the U.S. is running out of time to counterbalance that in Asia and prevent a scenario such as it seizing Taiwan.

Why it matters: McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, recently briefed the president-elect as part of his cabinet of diplomatic and national security advisers. President-elect Joe Biden is considering which Trump- or Obama-era approaches to keep or discard, and what new strategies to pursue.

Progressives shift focus from Biden's Cabinet to his policy agenda

Joe Biden giving remarks in Wilmington, Del., last month. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Some progressives tell Axios they believe the window for influencing President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet selections has closed, and they’re shifting focus to policy — hoping to shape Biden's agenda even before he’s sworn in.

Why it matters: The left wing of the party often draws attention for its protests, petitions and tweets, but this deliberate move reflects a determination to move beyond some fights they won't win to engage with Biden strategically, and over the long term.

Dave Lawler, author of World
7 hours ago - World

Venezuela's predictable elections herald an uncertain future

The watchful eyes of Hugo Chávez on an election poster in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.

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