Glen Nelson Center at American Public Media Group launches the third annual Next Challenge for Media & Journalism

Mar 5, 2024

Finalists of the national media startup competition will connect with industry mentors and winners split up to $150,000 in prize money.  

ST. PAUL, MINN., March 5, 2024Glen Nelson Center at American Public Media Group launched the 2024 Next Challenge for Media and Journalism. The Next Challenge is a national startup competition seeking groundbreaking for-profit and nonprofit startups that will reinvent the media landscape in the coming decade. This year’s competition seeks to engage 400+ startups with $150,000 in grants to organizations transforming local news, building technology to power future newsrooms, and pioneering new ways of distributing content around the globe. 

Entries are now open on and will be accepted through March 25.  

“The collapse of traditional business models and rise of new technology - especially AI - create headwinds for the news and journalism industry," said Jeff Freeland Nelson, executive director of Glen Nelson Center. “We are seeking startups that turn those challenges into opportunities, using technology to advance trustworthy journalism and identifying new sources of revenue to sustain and grow media in the public interest.” 

Seven prizes totaling $150,000 will be awarded to early-stage media startups in three divisions. The Next Challenge Grand Prize winner will receive a grant of up to $60,000. The divisions are as follows: 

  • Future of Local Journalism Award: New to this year’s competition, this division will be awarded to a local or regional news startup that excels at meeting the information needs of the community it serves or is pioneering a sustainable new business model for local journalism. Supported by the MacArthur Foundation.   

  • NewsTech Award: Also new to this year’s competition, the NewsTech Award will be awarded to a startup supporting the productivity and sustainability of newsrooms by providing an essential service using artificial intelligence (AI) and/or other technology. Supported by Knight Foundation.  

  • Power Platform Award: This division will be awarded to a technology startup developing powerful ways to share media content across the country and around the globe. Supported by the McKnight Foundation.  

“The prize money is a game changer for our small operation," said Ben Ben Boult, Executive Producer of Climate Town and 2023 Next Challenge Grand Prize winner. "It helps us to do things like bring on an assistant editor and boost our post-production workflows, hire dedicated writers and researchers, as well as launch new projects, including our first podcast." 

Additionally, the competition will present a Vision Award to a startup with a bold vision to reinvent media and journalism; a Trust in News Award to a finalist building trust in the media by exposing disinformation and deep fakes; and the Public Choice Award to the most compelling finalist as voted on by the public.  

“Not only did the recognition we received as finalists lay the groundwork for many connections and partnerships with journalism organizations, but the experience also served as a catalyst for further innovation between Rolli and another finalist,” said Nick Toso, founder and CEO of Rolli, a finalist in last year’s competition. “This collaboration has been pivotal in shaping our path, and today we can trace some of our proudest achievements back to the Next Challenge for Media & Journalism.” 

The competition is hosted in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the McKnight Foundation. Media partners include the American Press Institute, Asian American Journalists Association, Indigenous Journalists Association, Institute for Nonprofit News, LION Publishers, Marketplace, Media Impact Funders, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Online News Association, PIVOT Fund, Public Media Journalists Association, Report for America, and the World Press Institute.   

The Next Challenge will conclude with a national showcase event to announce its winners in May of 2024 at the Media Impact Forum in New York City.  


About the Glen Nelson Center 

Launched in 2018, Glen Nelson Center at American Public Media Group identifies, elevates, and invests in groundbreaking media ventures led by a diverse group of visionary founders. Connecting startup founders and teams with APMG staff, advisors, and board members informs strategic planning, supports long-term revenue and audience goals and strengthens the APMG innovation culture. For more information, visit

About American Public Media Group 
American Public Media Group (APMG) is the largest station-based public radio organization in the U.S., combining multi-regional station operations, national programming creation and distribution and innovative digital, social and mobile services in one organization. APMG’s operations include Minnesota Public Radio® (MPR®), a 46-station network serving nearly all of Minnesota and parts of surrounding states. MPR and its three regional services –MPR News, YourClassical MPR and The Current –produce programming for radio, digital and live audiences. APMG is one of the largest producers and distributors of public radio programming in the world and reaches nearly 16 million listeners with 1,000 public radio stations and over 400 commercial stations nationwide each week. APMG’s national portfolio includes BBC World Service, Marketplace®, APM Studios, and the leading classical music programming in the nation, YourClassical. APMG also includes Southern California Public Radio, a four-station network serving Los Angeles, Orange County, Coachella Valley, and the Inland Empire. For more information – or to become a member and support APMG efforts to reimagine the future of public radio, visit