Indiegraf announces fall 2021 Indie News Challenge Cohort

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Indiegraf is thrilled to announce the newest cohort of the Indie News Challenge. 

From progressive reporting in Toronto to longform journalism for the Prairies and municipal news in Philadelphia, this cohort of INC represents a diverse group of journalists located throughout North America.

What is the Indie News Challenge?


Over nine weeks starting in September, a group of journalist-entrepreneurs from across Canada and the U.S. will work together to build and grow their outlets. Through weekly Zoom seminars, exercises, one-on-one feedback with industry experts and a community of like-minded peers, they’ll learn how to develop their idea into a clear product with early traction that can be presented to funders.  

Indiegraf network members have accomplished so much while enrolled in the program. Ayesha Barmania and Will Pearson expanded Peterborough Currents from 20 to over 2,000 email subscribers, and grew their audience revenue by 1,745 percent. Within weeks of launching, The Breach raised tens of thousands of dollars. The IndigiNews weekly newsletter, established in November 2020, started with a subscriber list of 726 readers. It now has a subscriber list of over 10,000 readers.

Introducing the fourth INC cohort  

We’re excited to welcome these seven projects to INC and the Indiegraf network:

The Hoser

The Hoser is an independent digital media outlet that covers local news in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada, with a progressive approach.

Kevin Taghabon is a Toronto-based journalist who graduated from the X School of Journalism in 2020 with a master’s degree after completing an internship at CBC News Toronto’s investigative unit and a semester at The Ryersonian. Taghabon is mostly focused on labour reporting and police violence and has also occasionally written arts and culture reviews. Taghabon is of Mexican and Iranian background and is fluent in Spanish reading and writing.

Co-founder Shannon Carranco is an investigative journalist in Toronto. Since 2017, Carranco has written extensively on the Far Right in Canada with the Montreal Gazette, The National Post and The Globe and Mail. She worked as an associate producer for CBC’s The Fifth Estate in 2019. 

The Hall Monitor

The Philadelphia-based Hall Monitor is a new web-based outlet focusing on local government, poverty and consumer affairs.

Lance Haver is the former director of consumer affairs for the city of Philadelphia, a long-time consumer advocate whose writing appears regularly in Philadelphia newspapers and is currently the Consumer Affairs Reporter for the Philadelphia Hall Monitor.

Denise Clay-Murray is an independent journalist whose work has appeared in a variety of publications including the Philadelphia Sunday Sun, Philadelphia Magazine and the BBC. Lawrence McGlynn is a Philadelphia-based journalist covering the interaction of local government and poverty for the Hall Monitor.

“We focus on stories that directly impact our audience by providing them with news they can use,” says McGlynn.

Afros In Tha City

Kimberley Dooshima Jev is a Calgary-based journalist and the founder of Afros In Tha City, the only media collective of its kind, dedicated to amplifying Black voices in Mohkínstsis/Calgary.

“We are looking to shift our product range into a yearly print publishing project as well as accelerate growth and sustainability of our online memberships,” says Jev.


HeyReprotech is an established newsletter that provides weekly stories about assisted reproduction. From families who promise surrogates an ongoing relationship — but then change their minds after the birth — to evidence on how many eggs you need to freeze to have a real shot at a baby, the newsletter tries to cover all angles.

Alison Motluk has been a freelance journalist for more than two decades, working with CBC radio, The Economist, The Walrus, Toronto Life, Maisonneuve, Hazlitt, Nature, New Scientist and all of Canada’s national papers.

“HeyReprotech launched three years ago to tell the real stories behind assisted reproduction,” says Motluk. “Psychologists, doctors, lawyers, surrogates, academics and others are among my subscribers.”

Rural Women Podcast

The Rural Women Podcast series was created by and for rural innovators that identify as women across Canada. It promotes, amplifies and supports the spirit of rural entrepreneurism. 

Based in rural Southwestern Ontario, Shauna Rae worked in commercial radio for a decade as a reporter, newscaster and talk show host before founding Radar Media and recently launching the Rural Women Podcast.

“There are so many underrepresented voices across Canada, and I feel called to amplify those voices,” says Rae. “I’m starting with rural women; humans who identify as women in rural Canada, striking out on their own, as entrepreneurs, and those that support them.” 

The Flatlander

The Flatlander is a new independent journalism project, chronicling the people, culture and environment that make the Canadian prairies exceptional.

Kelly-Anne Riess is a prairie journalist whose past work can be found in the Globe and Mail, Canadian Geographic and Chatelaine.

“Frequently the prairie region is overlooked by Canada’s national media, and I am hoping The Flatlander provides an online home for the best long-form journalism that covers Manitoba and Saskatchewan,” says Riess.

The Weekly Rant

The Weekly Rant is a platform aimed toward educating people about systemic violence across Turtle Island (North America).

Anushay Sheikh is based in Tkaronto (Toronto) and has lived in Canada since relocating from Saudi Arabia during the height of the Arab Spring. Sheikh is currently a law student with prior experience working for political campaigns.

“We create accessible content, conduct investigative journalism and provide low-cost, high-quality video production resources for queer and BIPOC organizations,” says Sheikh. “Our goal is to create community and amplify the stories and lived experiences of folks who have been actively pushed to the margins.”

The Indie Growth Program

We don’t want anyone to miss out. That’s why we’re now opening applications for a brand new program for North American journalist-entrepreneurs: the Indiegraf Starter Growth Program. Apply here.


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