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VOL. 129 | NO. 143 | Thursday, July 24, 2014

TheGRIND Evolves as First Anniversary Approaches

By Andy Meek

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The one-year anniversary is approaching for theGRIND, a digital publication that launched in January to bring its own take on covering the people, places and events of Memphis.

Leading up to that milestone, the publication has several things in the works that collectively showcase how it’s evolved quickly from an idea to the reality of an ambitious media startup. Editor in chief Kendra Lyons, for example, says plans in the works include a print version of the digital-only outlet, as well as a coffee table-style book that would feature the best photography and stories from theGRIND.

The organization also is in the process of setting itself up as an LLC, putting it on the road to becoming an official business. And internship programs to give young people a vehicle for their journalism and creative writing ambitions also have been launched.

“Basically, when we started, we had quite a large team of people working on this who were all basically testing out the waters, putting out articles each month, and that was the extent of it,” Lyons said. “Since then, we’ve been able to kind of narrow down who the core team is and structure ourselves so that we’re in the planning process of becoming an official business, an official LLC.

“We’ve also been able to set up an internship program with Christian Brothers University that we’re really excited about, and that means their students will be writing for us and helping us with our day-to-day operations and getting class credit for that, so that’s awesome. University of Memphis journalism students are also going to have theGRIND available as a freelance opportunity for them.”

Those, among other things, are examples she pointed to of how the venture has gotten more organized and how it’s moving forward to start making money – expanding and allowing itself to reach the idea’s full potential.

Her team launched theGRIND as a digital-only venture that especially relied on quality photography, profiles of interesting Memphians and unique sections such as Humans of Memphis, a collection of photos that captures ordinary Memphians in diverse settings, with the photos generally paired with a short quote.

That feature especially recalls the popular photography-centric blog Humans of New York, an evocative depiction of the daily ebb and flow of life in New York that also relies on high-quality photos of ordinary people.

Meanwhile, theGRIND also is planning to be more involved in the community, Lyons said, and is working toward putting out merchandise for people to buy.

One idea it’s considering is to celebrate its one-year anniversary by putting out, in addition to the online magazine, a print version that would include exclusive features and could be sold in local coffee shops and similar businesses.

Another idea Lyons mentioned is the possibility of releasing a kind of yearbook for theGRIND that features the best photography and favorite interviews.

At the beginning of the year, the outlet launched as theGRIND for the several Memphis connotations wrapped up in the title. The team thought that title reflected Memphis’ nature as a “tough, hard-working city,” for example, referring to there being scars here, plus the obvious connection to the Memphis Grizzlies, among other things.

“We’re definitely making this more of a business than a passion project like it was at the start,” she said. “Overall, I’m kind of surprised myself at how successful things are. I’m happy we’ve been able to make this go from an idea to reality in a relatively short amount of time.”

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