Outlier Media



Detroit, MI

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:




Executive Director:

Candice Fortman

Executive Director's Salary (2021):

$38,293 1


  1. “Outlier Media, Full Filing – Nonprofit Explorer.” ProPublica, November 14, 2022.
Latest Tax Filing:

2021 Tax Filing

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Outlier Media operates a nonprofit online news site focused on the City of Detroit that uses surveys of residents and public data analysis to identify topics for its reporters to cover. Its target audience is lower-income residents who receive its coverage through text messages and social media.

History and Leadership

Outlier Media is led by editor-in-chief Sarah Alvarez, a former Michigan Public Radio producer and reporter who founded the organization in 2016, and executive director Candice Fortman, a former Detroit Public Radio marketing manager. 1 2

In January 2020, Outlier Media announced it would be merging with the MuckRock Foundation, a nonprofit focused on government transparency that hosts a searchable national database of government responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. 3 In October 2020, Outlier announced it would not be completing that merger, and that MuckRock would instead continue in a fiscal-sponsor role, which it did until Outlier Media received independent 501(c)(3) status from the IRS in 2022.  4

Outlier Media hosts a reporter funded by Report for America, the national journalism nonprofit project of left-of-center Google News Lab and The GroundTruth Project that is modeled after the federal Americorps government service program. 5


Outlier Media sends text messages to cell phone numbers located in Detroit to offer its media coverage and data-based journalism offerings to local residents. 6

Outlier Media journalists have broken or advanced stories of local government inefficiency, mismanagement, or malfeasance including: the Detroit Land Bank selling homes without functioning water connections, 7 the Detroit Downtown Development Authority failing to hold 13 of 20 scheduled board meetings, 8 the city’s use of $7 million in American Recovery Plan Act funding to purchase a ShotSpotter gunfire detection system that has been criticized for ineffectiveness, 9 the failure of Detroit’s inspector general to investigate $400,000 potentially stolen from the Detroit Public Library, 10 the Detroit Board of Ethics going six months without having a quorum, 11 a pattern of failed inspections and substandard conditions in Detroit Housing Commission-owned properties, 12 the failure of Detroit Red Wings ownership to meet community benefits agreement promises related to a new publicly funded hockey and basketball arena, 13 and more.

Detroit Documenters

Outlier operates “Detroit Documenters,” a program through which it trains and pays local residents to attend and report on public meetings of government bodies such as city councils, county commissions, and Detroit’s utility regulators, zoning boards, board of police commissioners, regional transit authority, land bank, and mental health authority. 14 Documenters’ coverage can include original reporting, audio recordings, transcripts, and live-tweeting meeting reports on social media. 15 16


Outlier Media’s largest funder is the American Journalism Project, which is a national grantmaking and training organization for nonprofit local journalists. 17 18 The American Journalism Project’s funders, in turn, include a number of high-profile left-of-center grantmakers such as the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Arnold Ventures, Emerson Collective, Quadrivium Foundation, the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund, Democracy Fund, Popplestone Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Lumina Foundation, Kaplen Brothers Fund, the Google News Initiative and Facebook. 19

Other Outlier Media funders include Democracy Fund, Yellow Chair Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Ford Foundation, the Skillman Foundation, Facebook Journalism Project, Borealis Philanthropy, Walton Family Foundation, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, ProPublica Local Reporting Network, Report for America, the Miami Foundation, Google News Initiative and Scripps Howard Foundation. 20


  1. “Our Team • Outlier Media.” Outlier Media. Accessed August 14, 2023.
  2. “Outlier Media.” American Journalism Project. Accessed August 14, 2023.
  3.  Welch, Sherri. “Nonprofit Journalism Organization Outlier Media Merges with Boston-Based Organization.” Crain’s Detroit Business, January 27, 2020.
  4.  Alvarez, Sarah. “A Message from Outlier Media • Outlier Media.” Outlier Media, August 11, 2021.
  5. “Outlier Media.” Report for America. Accessed August 14, 2023.
  6. Schmidt, Christine. “By Mass-Texting Local Residents, Outlier Media Connects Low-Income News Consumers to Useful, Personalized Data.” Nieman Lab, March 1, 2018.
  7. Mondry, Aaron, and Noah Kincade. “If You’re Sold a Detroit Land Bank House without Water, Who’s Responsible? • Outlier Media.” Outlier Media, May 11, 2022.
  8. Silmi, Malak. “Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority Has Canceled 13 of Its Last 20 Board Meetings • Outlier Media.” Outlier Media, October 25, 2022.
  9. Rahman, Nargis. “Detroit Hopes to Expand Shotspotter Gun Detection System Using $7 Million in ARPA Funds.” WDET 101.9 FM, February 11, 2022.
  10. Silmi, Malak. “Inspector General Declines to Further Investigate $400K Missing from Detroit Public Library • Outlier Media.” Outlier Media, February 8, 2023.
  11. Silmi, Malak. “Detroit’s Board of Ethics Struggles to Conduct Meetings • Outlier Media.” Outlier Media, June 6, 2023.
  12. Mondry, Aaron, Rukiya Colvin, Malak Silmi, and Kate Abbey-Lambertz. “The Low-Rent Trap • Outlier Media.” Outlier Media, May 3, 2023.
  13. Mondry, Aaron, and Kate Abbey-Lambertz. “District Detroit Archives • Outlier Media.” Outlier Media, May 17, 2018.
  14. “Detroit Documenters • Outlier Media.” Outlier Media. Accessed August 14, 2023.
  15. “Reporting.” Accessed August 14, 2023.
  16. Schmidt, Christine. “It’s Not ‘Citizen Journalism,’ but It Is ‘Citizens Taking Notes at Public Meetings with No Reporters Around.’” Nieman Lab, January 11, 2018.
  17. “Outlier Media.” American Journalism Project. Accessed August 14, 2023.
  18. “What We Do.” American Journalism Project. Accessed August 14, 2023.
  19.  “Our Supporters.” American Journalism Project. Accessed August 14, 2023.
  20. “Our Funders • Outlier Media.” Outlier Media. Accessed August 14, 2023.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: June 1, 2022

  • Available Filings

    No filings available.

    Outlier Media

    Detroit, MI 48202-3429