Two things became apparent to a group of female UNC-Chapel Hill seniors before graduating—that they loved their work in UNC’s School of Media and Journalism and yet, there seemed to be an information gap in the media.
August 6, 2015
UNC Grads’ Journo-Startup Takes Road Trip to Tell Untold Stories of Women
Women-led Driven Media kicks off a crowdfunding today to fund new journalism venture in Chapel Hill.
Throughout their studies, there hadn’t been many females in the media who they really connected with, and traditional media certainly wasn’t covering stories that women of a variety of ages, races and socio-economic groups would want to read or hear about.
So when it came time to find jobs in the field, they decided to create their own—they wanted to be sure they weren’t the only young women feeling this way. Their new publication called Driven Media, launches this fall, says co-founder Samantha Harrington, and it will tell the stories that might not have a mass audience but that appeal to diverse groups of women.
“Even within traditional demographics used to break down populations, every single woman is different and wants different information,” says Harrington.
That’s why she and her female peers are starting with a broad approach of covering something traditional media might not—the immigration stories of women.
In the bootstrapped startup’s first series to be released this fall, Harrington, Isabella Bartolucci (videographer), Hannah Doksansky (photographer and designer), Josie Hollingsworth (web developer) and Hrisanthi Kroi (web developer), will recount the stories they collect as they drive across the eastern half of the U.S. meeting immigrant women in seven communities.
They’ll visit Portland, ME, Boston, NYC, Louisville, Chapel Hill, Orlando and Atlanta for two weeks each. The stories will be posted on the Driven Media website, which is free for readers.
They plan to fund the tour with a campaign launching today on Beacon, a crowdfunding platform specifically for journalism. They hope to raise $50,000 with Beacon matching any funds raised up to $25,000.
Otherwise, the team’s plan for profit is to avoid traditional media revenue sources as much as possible (much like the other three journo-startups that have started in the Triangle in recent months). Instead, they’ll consider three different ways to make money, which the team plans to test out this fall during the initial content-production phase.
The first is through sponsored projects or stories. Organizations or companies that are looking to connect their brand with young women would pay to have these inspiring stories produced.
A secondary source is through workshops. Harrington says that Driven Media is based around the idea of mobility, so as the team travels around collecting and sharing stories, they also plan to host media-skills workshops for girls and young women.
Other revenue could come through partnerships with media organizations. The women could be contracted to produce sets of stories along the Driven Media themes. That could help boost their visibility.
Future stories will fall into common themes the team has heard women want to express—work-personal life balance, love, success, how women define their happiness and more stories about identity that may not fall into immigration.
Before the startup began, members of the team individually worked in the Reese News Lab throughout their college years, where student fellows are taught entrepreneurial skills and dream up business ideas to pitch to potential investors or media organizations.
It was through their experiences in the lab that they decided to start their own company. The lab has served as a cheerleader and advisor ever since, says Reese News Lab Executive Director John Clark.
“Driven Media is 100 percent fantastic,” he says. “I think they’ve hit on something and it’s going to go very well.”
The team is approaching media different from standard journalistic sources, Clark adds. The women are diving into topics instead of covering a story and then walking away.
“It’s engaging because it has great potential to link geographic communities together through some kind of topic, which is unique,” he says.
And it seems to be in a similar vein to other national female-focused media efforts. Bustle is an online source for women to share their stories and glean from each others. And the popular news outlet Vice recently released Broadly, a website and digital video channel devoted to representing experiences and issues that matter most to women.
But Driven Media hopes to differentiate through its storytelling, starting with spotlighting the lives of women who have immigrated into our society and who are finding their own identities through assimilating into American culture.
Harrington predicts that the market for female voices will evolve over time and she hopes for it.
“As more and more information sources pop up for women, our role in the market might change, which sounds like a bad thing, but I don’t see it like that,” she states.
She adds that more competition means more options for women.
“We deserve that,” she says.