The editorial team at the Daily News is moving on to launch a new, for-profit local news venture.
Over the past four years, the staff, volunteers and supporters of Chi-Town Daily News have built an impressive thing -- a new kind of news organization that works aggressively to hold public officials accountable to voters and empowers members of long-ignored communities to tell their neighborhood's stories.
We've been privileged to work with a fantastic group of foundations and other supporters, including the Knight Foundation, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Abra Prentice Foundation, and others too numerous to name here. Their advice and financial support have been instrumental to all that we've achieved, and we owe them a heartfelt thanks.
We've concluded that, as a nonprofit, we cannot raise the money we need to build a truly robust local news organization that provides comprehensive local coverage.
The Daily News needs $1 million to $2 million per year to do a great job of covering a city as sprawling and complex as Chicago. And despite hundreds of phone calls and letters to foundations, corporations and individual donors over the past four years, we've never come close to that.
Last year, we raised about $300,000. This year, due to the economic downturn, it was unclear whether we would be able to maintain that level of revenue, let alone move quickly to expand our coverage.
So, after much soul-searching, we've decided to turn our efforts toward a business model that will support the kind of vibrant public affairs coverage that Chicago deserves. Ultimately, we believe we will be able to fulfill the same mission we set out to accomplish with the Daily News, though with a new name, a new company, and a different business structure.
We've got some angel funders lined up, and will be recruiting additional investors over the next few weeks. I'll be announcing more details about the new venture shortly.
Meanwhile, we are talking with local nonprofits that have expressed an interest in acquiring the website and neighborhood reporting program. We expect to quickly place that program with an organization that will be committed to citizen journalism and great local news coverage, and one with the resources to make the program even bigger and better.
In the interim, we'll continue to update ChiTownDailyNews.org with the work of our existing volunteers, and with content from our partnership with Loyola University's City News reporting class.
UPDATE: I just posted a Q&A that has more detail about our plans for various parts of our operations.