Word in Black receives $300,000 in funding from Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge


(December 16, 2020) — Amazing things happen when great companies join forces in new ways. That sums up the short history of the Word in Black news collaborative — freshly funded with $300,000 from the Google News Initiative and launching as a national news brand in 2021.

Word in Black is made up of 10 of the leading Black newspapers in America. From New York to Atlanta, Houston, Washington, D.C., Dallas, St. Louis, Detroit, Baltimore, Seattle and Sacramento, the group covers a considerable part of the U.S. population.

Tatum

“Word in Black has come so far in such a short period of time,” said Elinor Tatum, publisher, New York Amsterdam News and the inspiration behind the collaborative. “We will launch a national brand focused on solutions to racial inequities in America thanks to the funding from Google. Our 10 publishers have deep histories and connections in their markets — coming together to launch this initiative at this moment in time is an exciting next step for all of us.”

The funding from Google will allow the collaborative to build out WordinBlack.com as a full-featured, consumer-facing website powered by Newspack and hosted by Automattic.  

Several industry experts will consult with Word in Black to guide strategy for building an audience for newsletters and growing a community contribution portal/membership model.

Funding from Google will also cover engineering and software costs associated with building out and marketing the site. 

Towle

“The GNI Innovation Challenge is honored to support the Word in Black collaborative,” said Chrissy Towle, head of news, Americas Partnerships Solutions at Google.  “Now, as much as ever, it’s important that Google continues to support media covering and telling the stories of underrepresented audiences.”

Local Media Foundation, which has served via its Fund for Black Journalism as manager and fiscal sponsor of Word in Black since its launch, will oversee the project.

“We are thrilled for the founding publishers of Word in Black,” said Nancy Lane, CEO, Local Media Association/Local Media Foundation. “This project accomplishes two very important tasks: to be the leading national voice in Black America, proposing solutions and impacting change, and to diversify the revenue of the 10 publishers who will own this joint venture together, ensuring long-term sustainability for their businesses.”

Lane

The long-term goal is to build Word in Black into a freestanding, for-profit business co-owned by the 10 founding publishers and supported by a mix of membership revenue, advertising, sponsorships, and philanthropic funding. 

With new funding and lofty goals, such as building an email subscriber base of 500,000 in the next two years, Word in Black has intentions to take an essential spot on the U.S. media landscape.

LMA and other funders such as Facebook, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Walton Family Foundation have also contributed to this project. With the added funding, noted journalist Nick Charles will join Local Media Foundation in a full-time role managing content for Word in Black and leading the journalism efforts of the collaborative.  

Charles has spent the last few months working with the group on coverage of the effect of COVID-19 on education in Black communities and will now expand his role. 

Word in Black seeks additional funding to support a full-time data journalist and resources for all 10 publishers to increase their coverage of racial inequities in areas such as healthcare, education, financial and more. Contact Nancy Lane to learn more or donate directly to the Fund for Black Journalism to support this effort. 

About Word in Black

Word in Black is the news collaborative arm of the Fund for Black Journalism. The mission is to tackle issues of importance to Black Americans including education in light of COVID-19, voter suppression, redesigning public safety in America, equity, closing the wealth gap and healthcare disparities. Partners include 10 of the nation’s leading Black publishers: New York Amsterdam News, The Atlanta Voice, Houston Defender, The Washington Informer, The Dallas Weekly, Sacramento Observer, Seattle Medium, St. Louis American, Michigan Chronicle and The AFRO-American.

About Local Media Association/Local Media Foundation

Local Media Association is a thriving and innovative organization serving more than 3,000 newspapers, TV stations, digital news sites, radio stations and research & development partners. Local Media Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable trust that supports the mission of LMA and the essential role of local news and information in a healthy democracy. 2020 projects include: Lab for Journalism Funding, COVID-19 Local News Fund, The Fund for Local Journalism, Fund for Black Journalism/Word in Black, Oklahoma Media Center, Solving for Chicago, The Branded Content Project and much more.