WhatsUpNewp was awarded an Impact-Designed Investigative Grant (I-DIG) for investigative reporting from Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION) and the Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation.

“We’re thrilled that a national journalism organization chose our humble publication for a grant for in-depth reporting,” Ryan Belmore, Owner of What’sUpNewp said. “We appreciate the confidence that LION continues to show in our organization, selecting our project from among many that were submitted”.

LION, a national nonprofit organization supporting publishers of local independent online news organizations, offered the grant in recognition of the need for more investigative journalism locally and nationally. Organizations across the country submitted proposals for investigative projects, representing a wide range of topics. Of all submissions, only 18 local, independent publishers were awarded the grant.

Local independent online news organizations, like What’sUpNewp, are emerging all over the country to fill the gaps of local accountability journalism due to the plight of legacy newspapers. LION has more than 200 members who run local independent online news organizations in 45 states.

But two big questions loom: Can they implement a sustainable business model? And can small local news operations do the same kind of investigative and accountability journalism — work critical to democracy — that newspapers are abandoning?

LION believes those two questions are connected, and they are working with What’sUpNewp and the 17 other grant winners to prove it this spring with these I-DIGs, a pilot project funded by a $25,000 grant from the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation. Founded by Edith Kinney Gaylord, the Oklahoma City-based Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation’s mission is to “invest in the future of journalism by building the ethics, skills, and opportunities needed to advance principled, probing news and information”.

“WhatsUpNewp is committed to providing comprehensive, in-depth reporting on issues, not only on Aquidneck Island but across the state. We recognize the need for more in-depth investigative reporting and are up for the challenge,” Belmore said. “We were awarded the grant on a topic that affects all of us, we look forward to getting this work done and rolling it out in the coming weeks”.

In addition to the grant, LION is assisting each grantee in using the results of their reporting to show communities the impact of watchdog journalism and why donations, subscriptions, and memberships are vitally important in supporting local journalism. On May 1st, What’sUpNewp launched a membership program to help support and grow its work.

What’sUpNewp is a proud member of LION Publishers and Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc.