Ark Republic is one of 450 newsrooms across the world that was selected to receive support from the Google’s News Equity Fund.
The initiative by Google, works to empower a diverse news ecosystem, and specifically support small and medium sized publishers creating original journalism for underrepresented audiences around the world.
“The News Equity Fund acknowledges that local and diverse newsrooms fuel the information circuits we need to navigate a rapidly changing world,” says Ark Republic founder and editor-in-chief, Dr. Kaia Niambi Shivers. “Every dime and dollar from the fund will go towards reporting more stories in our unique way, and getting them to our communities.”
Ark Republic’s $11,000 will go to several multimedia story series, features and podcasts exploring critical issues from both a local and global lens. The range of stories include Black farmers to environmental racism, and even high-profile cases in the New York to Philadelphia involving accusations of police brutality.
Included in Ark Republic’s to-do list, they will launch three podcasts: Framed, Intermezzo and Bookends + Liner Notes; and continue to cover local stories and reactivate old columns that were postponed when the pandemic placed a strain on operations. Additionally, the modest-sized media agency plans to tap more into lifestyle, arts and culture; and hyperlocal stories in several other high-audience metro areas such as Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans and D.C.-Maryland-Virginia.
The Newark-based outlet that also established a satellite office in Philadelphia, employs the perspective of maligned communities such as communities of color, politically under-represented, and economically vulnerable populations.
“Stories from the majority of the country are too often ignored, limited in scope or distorted,” says Dr. Shivers. “Yet, the ability to access information and understand the world through a familiar lens is needed more than ever. This is where Ark Republic comes in.”
The Black and woman-led startup was launched in 2017. An online, boutique media firm centering justice and equity, it covers current affairs and narrates key issues through rich and robust storytelling, innovative reporting styles, collaborative work and solutions-based journalism.
Today, it is one of the few black-woman owned, full scale boutique news media organizations that even has its own comic strip series called, Black Is A Soul and three international reporters. Consisting of a diverse newsroom, Ark Republic has worked with over 90 contributors with most reporters being of color and women. To cultivate an expansive perspective, The Ark uses traditional and non-traditional journalists that they coin as “a collective of dope people.” One way this is carried out is through their signature reporting style called the Major Collaborative Project, which enlists a number of reporters, creatives, activists and community members to jointly address an issue.
Last year, Dr. Shivers knew that like the rest of the world, Ark Republic required a serious renovation. “I was forced to sit down, reimagine and reconstruct, ‘The Mothership,’’ recalls Dr. Shivers, who has lovingly nicknamed The Ark from two cultural icons, Afro-futuristic novelist, Octavia Butler, and 1970s funk band, The Parliament Funkadelics.
Dr. Shivers began actively participating in CUNY’s Black Media Initiative led by Cheryl Thompson-Morton. Ark Republic has been a member since 2020. The initiative hosts workshops and facilitates months-long trainings to boost the operations and performance of Black media organizations. As well, they hold one of the few public mappings of Black newsrooms in the U.S.
It was through the Black Media Initiative that Dr. Shivers learned about the Philadelphia Media Fund Exchange (PMFE). A program forged by the Lenfest Institute in partnership with Zebras United, it assisted media founders of color to reshape their organizations. PMFE was also co-funded by the Knight Foundation Organization. As a recent transplant to Philadelphia, Dr. Shivers applied as a way to segue Ark Republic into the city’s ecosystem. Nabbing a spot, the five month program of working sessions and presentations by mediamakers became a transformative experience.
During the time at PMFE, Dr. Shivers also was part of CUNY Newmark J-Schools inaugural cohort, Black Media Product Strategy. The Ark’s newsroom editor, Yolanda Aguilera also won a fellowship to cover the 2022 NYC elections in a series called, Politicking.
“The racial upheaval taught all who are in the media ecosystem that we exist in a symbiotic relationship that cannot afford to be lopsided,” says Dr. Shivers. “We are the answers to the balancing act that must occur.”
We’re raising money for Ark Republic and Black Farmers Index. We need your help to keep the wheels churning and the stories flowing. Please donate to organizations committed to keeping you informed with rich, robust stories and great connections to empowered people.