The Defender Network has been selected by the Texas Tribune to participate in its first-ever local news revenue and training lab.

Last year, The Tribune announced the creation of Revenue Lab: its first-ever local news revenue and training lab, made possible by a generous grant from the Facebook Journalism Project. Now, it is announcing the Revenue Lab’s first cohort.

The Tribune selected 14 publishers — nonprofit and for-profit, hyperlocal and national, startups and a 90-year-old organization (the Defender) — to participate in an eight-week online program.

The program will help publishers move through the process of defining and developing an events program all the way from ideation to audience identification to monetization. At the end, each participating newsroom will be equipped with a bold vision — and a detailed plan — to use events to achieve their audience and revenue goals.

Events are a core part of The Texas Tribune’s strategy. It is delighted to be able to share its resources and our expertise with other newsrooms, especially in this moment when physical distancing requires creative approaches to generating revenue and innovative solutions for meeting audience needs. This year, for example, the Tribune pivoted its annual fundraising gala TribFeast, to a virtual experience and quadrupled our profit margin in the process. For a practical guide to how they did this, check out their case study on the Facebook Journalism Project site.

The Texas Tribune’s first cohort:

  • Advocate Media, a nonprofit organization that aims to fill the “news desert” in South and West Dallas.
  • The Beacon, a nonprofit online news outlet based in Kansas City focused on local, in-depth journalism in the public interest.
  • Block Club Chicago, a nonprofit news organization dedicated to delivering reliable, nonpartisan and essential coverage of Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods.
  • CalMatters, a nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters.
  • Canopy Atlanta, a digital publication that tells stories about metro Atlanta by training and involving residents in the process of journalism.
  • Defender Network, a 90-year-old publication delivering news and information to Black people in Houston.
  • Detour Detroit, an independent local news organization committed to equitable journalism about Detroit’s diverse neighborhoods and building community through meaningful engagement.
  • Invisible Institute, a journalism production company on the South Side of Chicago working to enhance the capacity of citizens to hold public institutions accountable.
  • The Markup, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates how powerful institutions are using technology to change our society.
  • The Maynard Institute, the nation’s oldest organization dedicated to helping the news media accurately portray all segments of society, particularly those often overlooked, such as communities of color.
  • NowCastSA, a nonpartisan, nonprofit online news organization in San Antonio that engages people about public policy, health, the environment, education and culture.
  • Prism, a nonprofit news organization led by people of color that centers the people, places and issues underreported by our national media.
  • Project Q Atlanta, an online news organization for Atlanta’s gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.
  • Spotlight PA, an investigative newsroom producing nonpartisan accountability journalism about Pennsylvania government and urgent statewide issues.

Taught by experienced news event producers, this first boot camp combines group instruction with peer-to-peer learning and individual coaching. Participants will leave the two-month program with detailed blueprints tailored to their organizations. After the boot camp, they’ll implement their plans with the support of ongoing coaching from RevLab.

Agnes Varnum, who’s produced hundreds of events for The Texas Tribune, leads the coaching team. She’s joined by Tanya Erlach, former head of experiences for the Los Angeles Times and the founding event director at The Texas Tribune; Rhonda Nolen, a Las Vegas-based producer of corporate, education and entertainment events; and Peter Lamb, a strategy consultant who works with media brands around the world.

The program runs through mid-September, and the participating publishers will launch their event programs this fall.