New Biden-connected media outlet coming to town – brands itself as independent news

Lexington, KY–Kentucky Twitter was abuzz Tuesday morning. A new account was burning up the charts, quickly gaining over 1,700 followers since it sent its first Tweet on Monday.

A mysterious lantern in the distance

The account, @KYLantern, which is currently flagged for suspicious activity by Twitter security, describes itself as “a nonpartisan, free news service. We provide factual, fair, independent journalism.” The unverified account claims to be based in Frankfort, KY. A review of its Tweets reveals it is connected to States Newsroom, which the Tweet describes as a “a nonprofit supported by philanthrophy [sic] and readers who think local & state journalism is a civic good.”

A new nonprofit news model

States Newsroom, which does not list the Kentucky Lantern as an affiliate on its website, describes itself as a nonprofit seeking to fill a reporting void in state capitals. “There’s a void in our news ecosystem and it’s only growing. While traditional news coverage of national politics has increased in recent years, those successes are isolated to a few major outlets. State coverage continues to shrink,” they say.

States Newsroom has established a new, philanthropic business model that focuses on state politics and policy. Our model is different: it is entirely made possible by donors of all sizes and unlike virtually every other for-profit and nonprofit media outlet, we don’t run ads of any kind or accept corporate donations or underwriting.

States Newsroom says it has a new model for journalism: a nonprofit, donor-dependent model. They say they employ 152 full-time journalistic staff in 30 states across the country.

The Biden/DNC Connection

In 2019, when States Newsroom was looking to do some “audience building”, they spent $500,000 with Precision Strategies, LLC.

Precision Strategies, LLC looks fairly bland at first glance. Their webpage describes work they’ve done on strategic communications and branding for a wide range of clients and industries. IBM, the NFL, the ACLU, and Planned Parenthood are among its listed clients.

A 2021 Politico article sheds a little more light on Precision’s origins:

The firm, Precision Strategies, was co-founded by President Joe Biden’s deputy chief of staff, Jen O’Malley Dillon, and Stephanie Cutter, a top adviser on the Biden-blessed outside group Building Back Together. According to a person familiar with the matter, talks have taken place recently about selling the company, whose profile has risen following Biden’s victory.

There’s a DNC connection, as well: “Cutter helped produce the 2020 Democratic National Convention as well as Biden’s Inaugural festivities,” according to Politico.

According to their IRS Form 990, they also hired the controversial SKDK for audience building in 2020. This should be fine.

What does it mean for Kentucky?

While the Kentucky Lantern’s amateurish rollout and blatant connections to the Democratic Center-Left Establishment are noteworthy, it’s too early to say what its overall effect will be on the Kentucky media landscape.

A review of another States Newsroom publication, The Alaska Beacon, reveals robust reporting and daily commentary. There are entire sections dedicated to specific issues like the environment, education, health, and justice. There’s even a podcast about abortion.

Our take: The Lantern says they’re bringing in some top-notch reporters who can definitely do better than the crap we throw together. We’re gonna give them a shot.