Sahan Journal’s founder, Mukhtar Ibrahim, is a Somali-born American journalist who began this digital-first independent news operation with the support of MPR News. Over the course of 18 months, Ibrahim raised $900,000 in funding from major foundations, created sahanjournal.com, and hired seven staff members, including three Report for America journalists. The site launched in August 2019, and has exceeded growth projections. In July 2020, unique visitors totaled nearly 200,000.
At the onset of COVID-19 in Minnesota, Sahan Journal began publishing essential pandemic coverage in three languages — Hmong, Somali, and Spanish — reflecting the three largest immigrant groups in the state. Over the summer of 2020, as the Twin Cities were rocked by civic unrest in protest of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Sahan Journal offered a distinct perspective on the social change underway by providing insight about new coalitions and the activism of immigrants and refugees in support of BLM.
Sahan Journal has established itself as a meaningful new entry into the Minnesota media scene. It covers health and education beats and offered deep local coverage of the Minneapolis primaries, where 5th District Congresswoman Ilhan Omar faced a significant challenge, and immigrant candidates unseated longtime Minnesota politicians.
Over its first year, Sahan Journal has worked to prove the concept that newsrooms led by BIPOC journalists will create a new kind of journalism and draw in young readers.
The vast majority of our readers are under the age of 40 and 85 percent of our traffic is from mobile users. Young immigrants and other people of color are engaging with the news offered at Sahan Journal because it meets them where they live.
While our mission is to serve the immigrant and refugee communities of Minnesota, we are aware that our coverage travels great distances online. Immigrants, refugees, and other BIPOC communities have not received coverage commensurate with their contributions to the state. We believe stories that represent young immigrants and other people of color as participants in civic life affirm the possibilities of democracy.