Our Mission:

Strengthening communities through responsible social news media.

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Verified News Network (VNN) is a social news media company headquartered on the Muscogee Creek Nation Reservation and Tulsa, Oklahoma. VNN Co-Founder Kelly Tidwell is a Muscogee Creek citizen with Cherokee lineage. His family has lived in the area since they were forced there on the Trail of Tears. Living and working on the MCN Reservation, Kelly and his wife and Co-Founder Journalist Brittany Harlow began building a network that would serve local families like their own.

Over the last five years, VNN has partnered and collaborated with others from different tribes, age groups, genders, and socio-economic backgrounds. This diversity ensures that VNN solutions are inclusive and address multifaceted community needs.

After working in radio and television news for a handful of years after college, Brittany knew something had to change.

It wasn’t just an answer to a call for innovation that the internet was demanding; it was an obligation to disrupt the declining moral standard of the current news industry. Her faith strengthened throughout her career, and so did her desire for change.

21st-century mainstream news appeared to thrive on sensationalism, with networks doing whatever it took to grab up the most “clicks”: demanding journalists go out of their way to find the rare and the terrible and overlooking the good alongside it.

Fear-mongering and glorification of horrible acts was on the rise. Unbalanced news reporting was morphing world views into an unrealistic and frightening misconception of reality. Simplified coverage from one narrow perspective wasn’t telling the whole story.

Brittany knew there was a strong need for citizens to remain informed, but she couldn’t deny that working in the current news system didn’t just mean putting profit over social well-being. At its worst, it meant actively working against it.

It was time to get back to the basics.

In June 2018, Brittany quit her job as a television news anchor and reporter and partnered with Kelly, VNN’s initial financial backer and project manager, to bring VNN to life.

VNN launched following development of the VNN Beta App. This first-of-its-kind social news media platform rolled the best aspects of news media and social media into one innovative system of news gathering and consumption.

No other system allowed users to view and share content in a verified, digital network of information. No other news network has been designed from the ground up to filter content for accuracy and promote transparency.

VNN partnered with BetaBlox, a Kansas City-based business incubator and accelerator, in February 2019. They helped VNN develop news entrepreneurship experiments that evolved the network’s business model into one that no longer depends solely on ad revenue. Instead, VNN journalists provide businesses and organizations a variety of sponsorship opportunities and high-quality media products at cost, all to help fund more diverse local news in their communities. 

Later that year, the network joined forces with its first news affiliate, The Frontier. The non-profit news organization has a proven track record of dependable, hard-hitting investigative journalism. Three additional Oklahoma news affiliates have joined the network since then, and VNN is in the process of adding additional independent organizations in other VNN states.

VNN has been dedicated to sharing diverse perspectives and serving underrepresented communities since the beginning. 

In Oklahoma, that focus centers on Indigenous coverage. Kelly’s family was of the Thlewathle tribal town, one of dozens of Creek tribal towns that were lost following removal. Following his official appointment to president and CEO, VNN became certified through CESO. Outreach to fellow citizens has since grown into network coverage based on community feedback, with plans to expand VNN’s Indigenous News even further. 

VNN launched the new VNN app in 2021. We believe better treatment for journalists and other content contributors will result in better news and information for everyone. That’s why revenue sharing and collaboration initiatives play big roles in our new tech.

But, of course, VNN’s new app isn’t just for journalists and affiliates. Collaborators can register as citizens, experts and officials. Citizens do not have to meet any additional verification requirements. Experts and officials do.

Once registered, collaborators can upload news stories, “like” new stories and leave comments on stories. They can also customize their news content preferences by topic and location and personalize their profile.

It is our mission to increase stories from diverse viewpoints, including those of minorities, women and youth.

Click here to register your free account on the new VNN app.

Together, we are creating a better news future: an interactive newsscape of balanced information that every member of society can depend on.

Join us today

Design work begins to create social news app wireframes

March 7, 2018

Development begins on beta app

May 24, 2018

VNN launches to public

July 2, 2018

Beta app test launch begins

August 22, 2018

VNN partners with BetaBlox

February 2, 2019

VNN joins forces with its first news affiliate, The Frontier

June 3, 2019

VNN launches the VNN app

May 25, 2021