Stone's Throw

Examiner Wins Spot in Google News Initiative-Sponsored Program

Opinion Advocates for ideas and draws conclusions based on the author/producer’s interpretation of facts and data.

We are part of The Trust Project

Let me say right out the gate, the remnants of uncertainty remain over whether it’s right to be updating our readership on The Examiner’s internal story.

For a good dozen or so years, I was largely quiet and believed the entire shine of our spotlight should be directed at the newsmakers we cover, and not the news journalists who produce it.


But once COVID hit, and we faced an existential crisis, I began to see how the story of a dying community news industry intersected with the story of the communities we cover.

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, sharing our story played a significant role in our relative rebound. It started with a reader-supported COVID-19 Local News Fund in 2020 but didn’t end there.

We piggybacked off that experience to build a deeper relationship with you, our audience. The question was how to strengthen our content in a way that also strengthened our business — so we can stick around for the long term.

In 2021, we secured a spot in the Substack Local program, and learned how to utilize newsletters to enhance our local journalism.

We later gained entry into the Facebook Accelerator, where we gathered insight on how to use digital tools to enrich the Examiner reader experience. (And hopefully, generate much-needed revenue in the process to invest further in our small team of journalists.)

Simultaneously, we participated earlier this year in The Trust Project initiative. The program spurred us to incorporate more transparency and best practices in our processes, especially when it comes to strengthening public credibility in our digital journalism.

And sorry to bury the lead but that’s how headlines help long-winded writers — we’re now one of 25 local news organizations picked for the final 2022 cycle of a Google News Initiative-sponsored program designed to help independent publishers improve their organizational sustainability.

Taking the steps advocated by the program feels like the final building block to the rebuild we’ve been working on over the past two and a half years.

The details aren’t sexy. I mean, I’m not gonna bore you with administrative options we’re looking at with our CMS or CRM or any of that other obnoxious alphabet soup of business lingo.

But the steps we’re taking do impact you.

Despite our little business’s startup feel and grassroots culture, we’ve been banging around now for 15 years. The way we’ll endure for at least 15 more is by modernizing our operations. And that modernization will allow us to produce better products across our print and digital local news platforms — newspaper, website, newsletter, social media, and whatever comes next.

Anyway, if you want to learn a little more about the Google News Initiative-sponsored program, here’s the link.

The program’s sustainability audit is facilitated through the good folks at Local Independent Online News Publishers, better known as LION.

A professional journalism association for independent news publishers, it’s the type of organization that has played a pivotal role in recent years in helping small outlets like ours survive the tidal wave of challenges brought on by industry disruption.

So, with all that in mind, thank you LION, thank you Google (although VERY mixed feelings about you guys, to put it politely and look a gift horse straight in the mouth — you almost killed many of us, now throw old dogs some bones), and, most importantly, thank YOU, readers, for passionately supporting our local news mission.

You’re the reason we’re here in more ways than one.

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