Most Innovative Black News Startup
Our Story & Why We Exist
We are a Black nonprofit community media platform employing innovative digital and community-building strategies to engage Gen Z and Millennials across the midwest. Our primary areas of focus are education, justice, business, arts & culture, and technology. Reaching over 10 million people and growing our social media audience to over 25,000 followers in our first year, we’ve created a new model for reaching Black people and Gen Z.
We were birthed from the ashes of the 2020 uprisings. As Black people, as young people, as organizers and abolitionists, it became glaringly apparent during 2020 that we could not depend on white media nationally or locally to serve our best interests, or to empathize and advocate for us.
The news industry and nonprofit news continue to struggle with adapting to new news consumption habits by younger, digital and social-native audiences. In addition to this, few local news outlets across the country effectively reach a primarily Black, youth audience online (especially in a localized context). This has meant that not only are there massive Black news deserts across the country, but where Black news outlets do exist, they often find it challenging to reach young people. We identified this and aim to fill that gap.
While from the beginning we’ve always had our eyes set on becoming an outlet that will contend with CNN, NYT, WaPo; and the other major national outlets, we continue to prioritize our cultural programs as much as, or more than our news coverage. In fact, when we first started, we were on 18th & Vine, our city’s historically Black jazz district, we were at parties, bars, liquor stores, even the strip club, we were building a relationship and trust with the streets. We connected with the top rappers, dj’s, promoters, and our city’s top hip hop radio hosts. We were shooting videos and producing free content for all types of Black people. We wouldn’t let anyone compensate or pay us, we just wanted people to support our mission and cause. We wanted our community to know our platform wasn’t transactional and that all we care about is The People. Because of that we earned a lot of respect and support. We think that loyalty and relationship is what separates us from other outlets in our region.
Policies & Standards
We subscribe to standards of editorial independence adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News: Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue. Acceptance of financial support does not constitute implied or actual endorsement of donors or their products, services or opinions.
We accept gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals and organizations for the general support of our activities, but our news judgments are made independently and not on the basis of donor support. Our organization may consider donations to support the coverage of particular topics, but our organization maintains editorial control of the coverage. We will cede no right of review or influence of editorial content, nor of unauthorized distribution of editorial content.
Our organization will make public all donors who give a total of $5,000 or more per year. We will accept anonymous donations for general support only if it is clear that sufficient safeguards have been put into place that the expenditure of that donation is made independently by our organization and in compliance with INN’s Membership Standards.
Donor & Financial Transparency
We are committed to transparency in every aspect of funding our organization. We have received a $25,000 grant from Indie Capital, and received no other major funding. We are committed to disclosing any major funding sources, particularly if it was ever to exceed 15% or more of revenue. We are currently not a 501(c)3 and thus, have chosen to be fiscally sponsored by The Institute for Nonprofit News.
Additionally, accepting financial support does not mean we endorse donors or their products, services or opinions.
We accept gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals, organizations and foundations to help with our general operations, coverage of specific topics and special projects.
Our news judgments are made independently – not based on or influenced by donors or any revenue source. We do not give supporters the rights to assign, review or edit content.
We make public all revenue sources and donors who give $5,000 or more per year. As a news nonprofit, we avoid accepting charitable donations from anonymous sources, government entities, political parties, elected officials or candidates seeking public office. We will not accept donations from sources who, deemed by our board of directors, present a conflict of interest with our work or compromise our independence.
Corrections Policy: The Kansas City Defender is committed to accuracy in our reporting and invites the community and/or readers to submit information about errors or omissions that ought to be corrected or clarified. To do so, please email [email protected]
Corrections in our stories will be applied at the top of the original published story and include the date for transparency. Additionally, the corrected stories will have updated text within the article with corrected information. We will describe the nature of our correction, but not reiterate the false or misleading information.
Lastly, if our stories are have been republished by other news outlets, we will inform those outlets about the correction.