How does this kind of journalism work?

Outlier is pushing a new approach to journalism, one that uses data differently, is more inclusive of those usually devalued by news media, and is more responsive to the community we aim to help inform.

Outlier doesn’t do articles, so how does it deliver the news?

Outlier wants to deliver valuable information to busy people. So we strip our news down to basics. We deliver information over text message or Facebook messenger directly to our news consumers. We report on issues related primarily to consumer financial protection or predatory financial practices. Our information is as personalized as possible, drawing on  our own reporting and data we’ve found in the public domain or through Freedom of Information Act or public records requests. To see how Outlier works text DETROIT to 63735.

How does Outlier engage with and stay accountable to its readership?

Every Outlier reader has the ability to easily get in touch with a reporter over text message. A reader simply texts “FOLLOW UP” and a reporter will reach out to them within 24 hours. We encourage readers to ask for a follow up if the information we provide doesn’t fit their needs, if they have insight they want to share with us, or if they have an question or problem they think deserves some news coverage. We then chase down these leads or work with other local newsrooms to get answers.

How do you decide what to cover?

We use publicly available data and data from social service agencies to inform us about which issues people in the zip codes we cover care about and complain about most. We think this is most likely to lead to the kind of reports our news consumers will find valuable. 

How do people find Outlier’s stories?

News consumers find Outlier content one of two ways: they can have it come directly to them via their phones if they live in the area we are covering, or they may see a sign or an advertisement telling them about Outlier and how to connect.

Are you sure what Outlier does is journalism?


Where do you work? 

We cover Detroit, the community where we’re based . We proudly seek to put the information needs of low-income news consumers first as this is an overlooked and undervalued news market.

Who pays for this? 

This year we are funded as a pilot project by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. We are thankful for their support! We are also experimenting with ways to make this work more self-sustaining.

Can I bring an Outlier project to my newsroom or area?

Of course! Get in touch and we would be happy to talk through options or ideas. Contact Sarah Alvarez at

Author: sarahalvarez

Journalist and founder of Outlier Media.