The Institute for Nonprofit News has named Cardinal News as its Startup of the Year.
The Institute for Nonprofit News has named Cardinal News as its Startup of the Year.

Cardinal News has been named Startup of the Year in a national contest by the Institute for Nonprofit News, the trade association for nonprofit online news sites. 

Judges picked Cardinal over two other finalists, the Fort Worth Report and The Kansas City Defender.

In announcing the award Wednesday, INN said that Cardinal “exceeded its initial five-year plan within its first 18 months. Since launching in 2021, the outlet grew donorship, tripled its staff, quadrupled its annual budget, and built a statewide audience. Closely followed by state policymakers, Cardinal News’s reporting has led to measurable change, including securing $11 million in aid for flood victims in a devastated Appalachian community.” The latter refers to Cardinal’s coverage of the 2021 flooding in Hurley in Buchanan County.

The Startup of the Year is awarded to a news organization — regardless of size — that has been operating for less than three years and has established strong support of its journalism throughout the community and the revenue growth to sustain it, and is engaging with its audience. 

“We are so pleased and grateful for our hard work to be recognized in this way,” said Cardinal executive director Luanne Rife. “We have assembled such a wonderful, talented team and have gained so much support from our community. It is joyful to celebrate local journalism.”

Cardinal was also one of three finalists in the INNovator Award category for our Speaker Series.

In 2020, there were about 150 nonprofit online news sites in the country, as measured by membership in the Institute for Nonprofit News. Now there are more than 425.

Cardinal launched in September 2021. “We’ve grown from an editor and two reporters to two editors, an audience engagement editor, part-time copy editor and seven reporters — with another reporter expected to join us this fall,” Rife said. “And we’ve been able to do this through mostly all local funding.”

Cardinal has no paywall or subscription fee. We are a 501(c)(3) that depends on reader donations. You can make your tax-deductible contribution here. Cardinal also discloses all of our donors.