Lessons From The Kyiv Independent On Launching – And Scaling – During A Crisis

The Kyiv Independent is an award-winning English-language media outlet which covers Ukraine and Eastern Europe. It launched in 2021 after the wealthy owner of the Kyiv Post fired the entire staff in favor of a controlled newsroom. They scaled against the backdrop of the Russian invasion, forcing every journalist to essentially become a war reporter. Listen to their story and learn how they scaled their publication against seemingly insurmountable odds.

Kyiv Independent: Key Takeaways

1. Business strategy and adaptation: Launched in 2021 off the heels of a crisis, The Kyiv Independent navigated, both, business and real world challenges, opting for ethical revenue streams and adapting its team for a startup setting. Each crisis presented an opportunity for action, enabling them to engage their growing audience for support, kickstarting their publication through accessible resources.

2. Narrative and public engagement: Their origin story of rebellion and bravery resonated widely, garnering extensive media attention, including a notable feature in Time Magazine. Even though as reporters their instincts were not to be the story, they leaned into the narrative and leveraged crowdfunding. They prioritized securing reader revenue support and financial sustainability from the outset.

3. Crisis response and integrity: In the face of the Russian invasion, they quickly adapted to war reporting, maintaining journalistic integrity while effectively seeking support during this critical period. Prioritizing the safety of their journalists was top priority as the events ultimately turned the entire staff into war reporters. 

4. Balanced scaling with efficiency: The Kyiv Independent achieved rapid scaling by strategically prioritizing resources. They effectively recaptured their audience with smaller, high-quality news pieces and leveraged public and social channels during their launch phase, ensuring newsroom accuracy while efficiently reaching audiences. Each stage of growth was centered on making ambitious decisions and focusing on sustainable growth.