Rapid Growth and Issue Media Group join Michigan Press Association

IMG's membership will more than double the number of online-only news organizations accepted into the 150-year-old organization.
Issue Media Group’s 12 publications in Michigan — including Rapid Growth — have become members of the Michigan Press Association, more than doubling the number of online-only news organizations accepted into the 150-year-old organization.
“We are happy to welcome Issue Media and all of their publications as news media members of the Michigan Press Association. They are a good example of the diversity of our membership,” said James Tarrant, MPA executive director.
The MPA board approved Issue Media Group publications’ membership last month.
Issue Media Group launched in 2005 with its flagship Detroit publication, Model D, with a focus on filling the gaps in community journalism and local storytelling being left as traditional news outlets reduced their reporting staffs.
“We are happy to earn this recognition from our peers at the Michigan Press Association,” said Paul Schutt, co-owner of Issue Media Group. “Our journalists report on the very fabric of our communities. This is wonderful validation of the work we have done, and continue to do every day, throughout Michigan.”
Schutt, a tech business developer, and co-owner Brian Boyle, digital content strategist, developed the company into a media organization with 12 publications in Michigan and six others nationwide. Each operates its own news website and produces a weekly email magazine.
Issue Media Group launched Southwest Michigan's Second Wave in 2010 after being invited into the community by key partners. With 53 percent growth in readership last year, Flintside now ranks as the largest nontraditional news outlet in Genesee County.
Last year, Second Wave launched the On the Ground program focusing on neighborhoods in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek. Issue Media Group continues to grow, adding four new markets in the last two years.
“We see a growing need in communities large and small throughout the country to ensure important community stories continue to be told. We believe storytelling is foundational to a community's identity and to increasing resident voice and community attachment to place,” Boyle said.
Issue Media Group publications focus on solutions journalism with an eye specifically toward community growth, development and innovation. Issue Media Group employs more than 120 journalists nationwide and accumulated nearly 3.8 million page views in 2018.
Issue Media Group publications also include Ann Arbor Concentrate, Bay City Route, suburban Detroit Metromode, Flintside, Lansing Capital Gains, Midland Catalyst, Mt. Pleasant Epicenter, Port Huron The Keel, Southwest Michigan’s Second Wave, and Second Wave Media statewide, and Model D.
With more than 330 members statewide, the addition of Issue Media Group’s 12 Michigan-based magazines brings the total number of online-only news members to 21, according to MPA.
Like all Issue Media Group publications, Rapid Growth is funded through a combination of underwriting contracts and grants. It is wholly editorially independent.
Underwriters are aligned with content focus areas — such as health care, higher education, children and neighborhoods — but are explicitly denied ability to assign, review, and approve content.
Supporters of Rapid Growth include the Grand Rapids Community Founation, Grand Valley State University, OST, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Steelcase, GROW, and The Rapid.
Other online-only news organizations with membership in the MPA include Bridge Magazine, Michigan Advance, Michigan Capitol Confidential, Chalkbeat, Flint Beat, Great Lakes Beacon, The Livingston Post, Michigan Information and Research Services Inc. (MIRS), and Oakland County 115, according to MPA.