On the 40th anniversary of the INDY‘s founding, we are excited to announce a new partnership with The Assembly, an upstart digital magazine with a statewide focus and a friend of the INDY‘s since it launched in 2021.

We spoke with Assembly founder Kyle Villemain about the differences between the the INDY and The Assembly, some changes at the INDY to come, and what a partnership between the INDY, The Assembly, and several others outlets and organizations will look like going forward.

INDY Week: The INDY is a progressive outlet and The Assembly is non-partisan. What does that mean for the INDY?

Villemain: North Carolina is a big place, and it needs a lot of different voices. The Assembly and its longform reporting will always be non-partisan. That’s non-negotiable for us. We believe that people in power do good and bad things regardless of ideology, and nobody gets a pass from tough and skeptical reporting.

We know the INDY is a progressive outlet and we respect that. There will be some stories the INDY publishes that will make me tear my hair out, and vice versa. It’s good and healthy to have different perspectives at different outlets.

Our focus will be on ensuring that the INDY’s reporting is done at the highest level. The paper has to be a place that helps readers navigate where they live. That means local accountability and politics reporting, and a doubling down on arts, music, food, and culture. 

What should readers expect to be different from the INDY?

The INDY has to stop doing some things, so that its team has time to do new things. 

We’ll be making the painful but productive choice of moving from weekly print to every other week print. That will be the biggest change. Simply put, the INDY’s team needs more time to focus on reporting, and less scrambling to get out a weekly paper. 

You’ll also likely see a shorter daily newsletter, so that the INDY’s terrific editor-in-chief has more time for editing, and less spent on early morning newsletter writing. 

You’ll see more food coverage, as the INDY benefits from The Assembly’s partnership with James Beard Award-winning food writer Hanna Raskin. You’ll see more arts and music coverage. And you’ll see more local investigative and accountability reporting.

That’s one partner. Are there other partners as well?

We have two more partners coming to help, besides Hanna’s outlet The Food Section. 

First, is Scalawag Magazine. Scalawag is a Black-led and -centering Southern journalism and storytelling organization. It has its roots here in Durham but a presence across the South. 

Scalawag is making a really visionary investment in the INDY, to help fund new reporting positions and ensure that the INDY remains a forceful presence in Durham and the Triangle for years to come. 

Second, is The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. The Institute is a pillar of the national journalism landscape with a long track record of driving change and sustainability for local news. 

Through its strategic advisory services, Lenfest Institute experts will provide pro-bono help to the INDY’s team as it reimagines itself. How could the print edition look different? What is the right product mix for our audiences? How can our operations support a delightful experience for readers? Internally, how can we support and develop the team? 

The Lenfest Institute knows how to get results for readers, and it’s a big deal to have them as a partner.

What else should readers know?

We’re not doing this so that the INDY can shrink. We’ll have to make some tough cuts to stop the bleeding, but we’ve got a plan to grow the INDY significantly by the end of the year. The Triangle needs more reporters out on the streets, and we think the INDY can be the solution.

It all depends on whether readers choose to give a few dollars a month to support the outlet. And whether local businesses and institutions decide that supporting INDY’s reporting—and reaching the tens of thousands of INDY readers—is part of their civic mission. Or, of course, just their business mission. 

We’ll be giving public reports in our newsletters every two months about how things are going. We’ll give specific numbers, so that readers know how their outlet is doing. 

Every dollar you choose to give through the Press Club, is another dollar that goes to reporters. 

Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle. Comment on this story at backtalk@indyweek.com  

Support independent local journalism

Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.