The Daily Memphian fundraised $8M for a subscriptions-based local news startup


The Daily Memphian raised $8 million in just over a year through foundations and anonymous giving, helping it to go head-to-head with daily newspapers in the region at a time when, founder Eric Barnes said, high-quality local news in Memphis is needed. 

“We made the pitch that this is an important part of democracy — that it’s civically important — for Memphis to have its own, locally-focused and locally-run news site,” Barnes said.

With a diverse and hard-working 40-person newsroom, The Daily Memphian launched in September 2018. The publication covers news and politics, business, sports, food, arts and culture and more. Combined with podcasts, events, and special in-depth reporting projects, the newsroom is in growth mode and ahead of expected sales and sponsorship revenue. The business plan calls for two-thirds of revenue to come from subscriptions. 

While The Daily Memphian is a nonprofit organization, Barnes said they downplay that aspect intentionally and haven’t made it a part of the company’s central identity — in juxtaposition with many local nonprofit digital news sites. 

In the first Accelerate Local case study, read about how The Daily Memphian launched in less than 18 months, and lessons learned about the paywall, newsletters, fundraising, staffing and more.

Report by Beth Lawton, LMA content contributor and founder/publisher of Alexandria Living Magazine

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