Build Successful
Local Journalism

One groundbreaking event, November 16-18, 2018, Philadelphia, PA


What to expect

Arrive with passion and leave with a well-tested business model, a pitch deck, and the roadmap of where to go next to launch a new local journalism initiative.

News Foundry is a three-day, high-intensity workshop that provides people working in journalism the skills to start building a viable business. Drawing from the Lean Startup movement, the event teaches effective ideation, business model validation through customer interviews, and how to run small experiments that can be done in a weekend.

As a participant in News Foundry, you’ll receive expert coaching from other journalism entrepreneurs. You’ll talk to real customers about their information needs. And you’ll present your business plan to a panel of industry experts for candid feedback.

Put simply: You will forge a new local journalism business plan in the fires of coaching, mentorship, customer validation, and rapid iteration. You’ll leave ready to take the next step.

The Opportunity

The business of local journalism is ripe for reinvention.

It has never been easier to start a business: the costs to publish and promote content have dropped to the point of being within reach of many people. The stories of successful digital upstarts are everywhere around us. Audiences are looking for new voices to trust.

Yes, it’s true that a handful of companies beholden to hedge fund owners have gutted local newsrooms across the U.S. and Canada, leaving us with nations full of “news deserts.” It’s also true that more and more of what some news companies call “local news” is simply wire stories and rewrites of press releases. And yet it’s within our power to try to fix these problems.

The time for disruption is now. Local news and information is desperately needed. This is a market opportunity for the wildly aspirational journalism entrepreneurs who are willing to take a shot at displacing the incumbents.

It’s happening all over the world. Are you ready to be a part of the movement?

Should you be at News Foundry?


Space is limited and priority will be given to those who are ready to attend the full event and give it 100%.
Let us know why you’d like to attend and we’ll get back to you quickly (within a few days)

Coaching & Pitch feedback Team

Lisa Rossi

Engagement & Design Thinking Coach
Lisa Rossi supports efforts that strengthen local news, increase civic empathy and create stronger communities. She is a journalist, speaker, trainer and design thinker with 20 years of experience, most recently as a 2017-18 John S. Knight Journalism fellow at Stanford.

Anna Nirmala

Director of Business Development, Hearken
Anna Nirmala is a media professional originally from Philadelphia, PA. She spent the first part of her career as a management consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, focusing on Strategy and Operations for some of the world’s largest companies.

Andre Natta

Editorial Director, Lenfest Local Lab
Natta ran the local independent online news site, The Terminal, in Birmingham, Ala. for more than a decade. He was a 2018 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University studying new approaches to distributing news and information on the local and regional level.

Chris Krewson

Vice President, Strategy, Spirited Media
Chris Krewson is the vice president of strategy for Spirited Media, and was the founding editor of Billy Penn, the company's first local news site, which launched in Philadelphia in 2014. He's worked in Pennsylvania for nearly all his career.

Brian James Kirk

Cofounder & Chief Business Development Officer, Technically Media
Kirk leads marketing and product development, forging new partnerships, building brand identity and coordinating new initiatives and projects at Technically Media.

Joan DiMicco, Ph.D

Executive Director, Public Radio Business Laboratory, WBUR
Joan is the Executive Director of WBUR's Public Radio Business Laboratory, which is dedicated to exploring new funding models and revenue sources for public radio. In previous roles she ran digital experience at Forrester Research and led a data visualization team at IBM Research. She has a PhD from the MIT Media Lab.

Merrill Brown

Founder, The News Project
Merrill Brown, a business executive, journalist, educator and consultant, most recently served as Founding Director of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University, a post he held from 2012 until 2017. He was the founding Editor in Chief of and cofounded the Online News Association in 1999.

Jason Bade

Co-Founder and President, Pico
Jason is co-founder and president of Pico and a lecturer in law at Stanford Law School, where he teaches design thinking and behavioral economics applied to public policy. He is also co-author of the Sunday Times bestseller, More Human.

Bruce Pinchbeck

Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer, WhereBy Us
Bruce Pinchbeck is Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer of media and technology group WhereBy.Us which houses publications in Miami with The New Tropic, Seattle with The Evergrey, Portland with Bridgeliner, and Orlando with Pulptown. He is an artist and producer who previously worked at New World Symphony,, and NBC Comcast.

Sam Goertler

Lead Product Manager, theSkimm
Sam currently leads product initiatives that make it easier for female millennials to live smarter lives at theSkimm. Previously, she founded Asana's New York office, where she led several product programs designed to improve team collaboration. She's also held several product positions within Microsoft and Yammer, and received a degree in Political Economy from UC Berkeley.

Ben Arnon

Co-Founder & CEO, Color Farm Media
Color Farm is digitizing and scaling the Motown model of talent and content development, building a human capital IP base in the process. Prior to founding Color Farm, Ben joined the Facebook-incubated tech startup, Wildfire, and played an integral role in building the company to 400+ employees and an acquisition by Google in 2012.

Ann Grimes

Brown Institute for Media Innovation, Stanford
Ann Grimes has been teaching classes in media, technology and entrepreneurship at Stanford University since 2005. She currently co-directs the Brown Institute for Media Innovation. A veteran journalist, she has held senior editorial positions at The Wall Street Journal in San Francisco and The Washington Post in D.C.

Industry and media support

We’re grateful for outreach, coaching and mentorship, and media support from these organizations: Broke in Philly, Hearken, GroundSource, The Lenfest Institute, Pico, The Skimm, Spirited Media, Philly, The News Project, WhereByUs and



You've got questions. We've got answers.

A full price ticket is $49.95. An early bird ticket is $39.95 (sold out).

If you’re a member of almost any professional association in the news or journalism space (NAHJ, NABJ, ONA, etc.), we will be providing them with 50% off discount codes — so simply reach out to your local contact and ask to get the code.

Although we have amazing sponsors that cover most of the costs of producing this event, we find that charging for tickets ensures that we get participants who are committed. If the cost is an issue for you, please get in touch with us directly using the form below.

Your ticket includes:

  • Several healthy meals over the course of the weekend
  • One-on-one time with coaches and mentors
  • A new network of people like you who want to build successful news businesses

Lots of passion. Come prepared to pitch your own idea, or sit back and listen to pitches from others. After the pitches, we’ll vote on the ideas and form teams. You can come by yourself, or with a team, but you’ll get the full experience when you participate on teams made up of old friends and new friends with lots of different backgrounds and experiences. 

During News Foundry you will learn how to take an idea from concept to validation over the course of a weekend.

If you are looking for any of the following, News Foundry is the place for you. You can:

  • Get introduced to the world of journalism entrepreneurship
  • Learn the process for putting your ideas into action
  • Meet experienced, talented, and passionate journalists and entrepreneurs
  • Join or build an all-star team with diverse talents
  • Make meaningful connections and become part of the Philly news innovation community
  • Beef up your resume, meet a mentor, a boss or a co-founder

Your idea should, ideally, be something you have not previously worked on — other than to come up with the idea. The idea should focus on some aspect of local news or information. Over the course of the weekend you’ll be challenged to create a very simple prototype, or minimum viable product, that fits the needs of your target customer or news consumer. You’ll get feedback, iterate, and likely change your idea entirely.

Whether you have an idea or not, you can attend the event. Those who do not come with an idea will join another team of their choice and help bring someone else’s idea to life.

It doesn’t matter what you do or where you come from, News Foundry is designed as an inclusive event that brings all sorts of people together including:

  • Reporters
  • Editors
  • Developers
  • Designers
  • Non-techies (business, sales, finance, legal, marketers, etc…)

Not at all. Come by yourself, or come with colleagues, or come with a team. Entirely up to you. You’ll meet lots of like-minded people at the event.

There are many people making this possible. The core team of people organizing this first event is: 

News Foundry Schedule

All sessions will take place at The Philadelphia Inquirer at 801 Market St., Suite 300, in Philadelphia.

Friday, November 16, 5PM-9PM

  • Reception & speed demonstrations
  • Idea pitching, voting, and team formation

Saturday, November 17, 9AM-6PM

  • Full day of business model validation, coaching & experiments

Sunday, November 18, 9AM-6PM

  • Coaching, pitch deck preparation, and pitch practice
  • Team presentations and feedback from judges
  • After party

We encourage participation for the full weekend because this is a team-based learning environment.

News Foundry organizing team

Phillip Smith

Founder, Journalism Entrepreneurship Training Co.
Phillip Smith is a battle-scarred veteran from the frontlines of digital publishing where, for more than two decades, he has provided advice and hands-on support to innovative publishers around the globe. He was a JSK Journalism Fellow at Stanford 2017-18, and he's currently launching a journalism entrepreneurship training company.

Julie Makinen

Executive Editor, the Desert Sun, and California State Editor, USA Today Network
Julie Makinen is a veteran reporter, editor and foreign correspondent for publications including the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the International New York Times. She was a JSK Journalism Fellow at Stanford 2016-17, and later was on staff at the Stanford Graduate School of Business' Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. She became editor of The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, CA, in October 2018.

Burt Herman

Director of Innovation Projects, Lenfest Institute for Journalism
Burt Herman is director of innovation projects for the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. He is also co-founder of Hacks/Hackers, the global grassroots movement of journalists and technologists, and previously he co-founded social storytelling platform Storify. Earlier as a journalist for The Associated Press, Burt covered stories around the world as a bureau chief and correspondent for 12 years.

Jeff Brown

Founder & Executive Director, Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation
A startup and growth phase veteran, a serial entrepreneur, angel investor and mentor, with a near ideal geek to business ratio. Jeff spends his time and attention and resources helping founders and organizations that are capable of generating a measurable, beneficial social impact alongside a financial return.

News Foundry Sponsors

News Foundry would not be possible without generous financial support from these industry leaders.  Become a sponsor

Change makers

Community Champions

Knowledge Mobilizers

Where to stay

We are currently searching for a group rate at a local hotel. In the meantime, please search for deals on sites like Hotline, Expedia, and AirBNB. Nov 16-18 is also the Philadelphia Marathon, so -- if you're coming from out of town -- please consider booking your accommodations early to avoid high prices and low availability.


Get In Touch

Have questions about News Foundry? Please send us a message and we'll reply ASAP.