Strengthening communities through responsible social news media.
After working in radio and television news for four years, Verified News Network (VNN) Founder Brittany Harlow 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 co-founder Kelly Tidwell, VNN’s primary financial backer, 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, part of that focus includes Indigenous coverage. Kelly, being both Muscogee Creek and Cherokee, is a registered citizen of Muscogee Creek Nation. His family was of the Thlewathle tribal town, one of dozens of Creek tribal towns that were lost following removal.
Following Kelly’s 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. Users can register as citizens, experts and officials. Citizens do not have to meet any additional verification requirements. Experts and officials do.
Once registered, users 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.
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