Providing Relief: Project Oasis will provide a guide to help launch sustainable local news businesses.

AuthorMateos, Evelyn

Anew initiative from Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media, Google News Initiative, and Table Stakes co-founder Douglas K. Smith wants to help entrepreneurs start local news businesses and existing local news entrepreneurs to better understand how to make their publications financially sustainable.

Called Project Oasis, it will include a database of local news sites in the U.S. and Canada as well as a Pathways Playbook. The playbook will be broken down in three launch phases: pre-launch, launch and stability. Each of those phases will include a "pack" and "crucial choices" resources, according to Anika Anand, programming director for LION Publishers.

The pack includes items such as checklists, templates and resources entrepreneurs need to succeed. The crucial choices will focus on the decisions local news entrepreneurs made, what happened as a result and what they might have done differently. Project Oasis will also define the key performance indicators and benchmarks that an outlet needs to move between phrases. The idea for Project Oasis originally grew from a series of conversations that Chris Krewson had with Smith shortly after starting as executive director for LION Publishers last summer.

Krewson explained it was from his "strong desire to grow the association by directly facilitating the growth of new members, particularly in areas that needed coverage (news deserts)." From there, Smith connected with members of the other participating partners. Although each partner lends a different kind of contextual expertise to the project, Anand shared that they are all splitting the work...

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