Section 5: Most digital native media were founded in the last decade

Section 5: Most digital native media were founded in the last decade

Most of the independent digital native media included in this report were launched in the last 10 years.

The average age of the media organisations in our directory is just under nine years. Our research shows that the majority of the media we studied — nearly 68% — started publishing content in the past 10 years, and 44% of these started in the past five years, between 2018 and 2022. 

In the last decade, Ukraine, Germany and Portugal accounted for the greatest number of new digital native media outlets established, of the countries we studied.  

This trend is consistent with SembraMedia’s research on Hispanic media. We also found that the majority of the digital native media featured in our SembraMedia directory were also founded in the last decade. More than 600 of those publications were launched between 2013 and 2021.

The last ten years were also the most active, according to the Project Oasis research report on local digital native media in the United States and Canada, first published in March 2021. Authors of that report noted:  “The past decade has seen the number of local [digital native news outlets] multiply six times over.” The report was conducted by UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, LION Publishers, Douglas K. Smith and the Google News Initiative.

When media were formed as non-profit vs for-profit organisations

In our research on European media, 2016 stood out as the year in which the most new digital native media were launched — nearly 10% of the total included in this study. It is also notable for being the year in which the most non-profit media were established. 

The majority of media founded in 2016 were in Georgia, Ukraine, Spain, Kosovo, France, Bulgaria and Azerbaijan (in that order).

By comparison, we found that the most for-profit media were started in 2015, while the most hybrid media organisations, which combine for-profit and non-profit models, were established in 2014. 

We saw a slight decline in the number of media established after these peak years — although in 2020, during the height of the pandemic, we found another spike in the growth of digital native media organisations, including a number of media projects that had not yet incorporated or registered when we completed our research at the end of 2022.

Digital native media appeared in Europe more than 25 years ago

Not all of the media featured in this study are “new”. More than 10% have been publishing for 15 to 26 years. The oldest media in this study were launched in 1997, just two years after commercial ventures were first permitted to publish on the World Wide Web. Most of the oldest media in this study were from Armenia, Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. 

Profiles of all the media outlets included in this report can be found in our Project Oasis media directory, where you can search for them by name to learn more about their work. The directory can also be filtered by country, news coverage topics and more.