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The American Independent News Network is a nonprofit network of local news sites centered on government and politics.
The network was founded by David S. Bennahum in 2006 as the Center for Independent Media, changing its name in 2010. It began with the New Journalist Pilot Program in Colorado and Minnesota, with 17 reporters participating. In 2007, the center began expanding to other areas, adding Iowa, Michigan, Washington, D.C., New Mexico and Florida.
It underwent layoffs in 2008 and 2010, the latter of which included the shuttering or downsizing of its ambitious New Mexico Independent and Washington Independent sites. Bennahum cited the rapidly growing staffs and the lack of long-term major grant givers as the reasons for the cuts. It also closed the Colorado Independent in 2013, though that site was reborn as an independent site later that year.
The organization appeared to be in hiatus as of early 2014.
The network has raised $11.5 million from numerous donors and foundations since its inception. As of 2010, it had a network-wide budget of about $2.3 million with a news staff of 31. Bennahum’s goal is for the network to earn more of its revenue from advertising, events and sponsorships, with more than half of its funding still coming from grants.
Backfence was a network of user-driven hyperlocal news sites that launched in 2005 and closed in 2007. Backfence was founded in 2005 by Mark Potts and Susan DeFife with five staff members and two community sites in the Washington, D.C., area. It raised $3 million in local and national investment and eventually expanded to 13…