News Nirvana, a new service from TownNews, identifies news deserts, partners with capable local publishers and editors and provides them with the tools, resources, and consulting to make their new digital news initiatives successful, says a news release from TownNews.

Qualifying news start-ups will be equipped with a website that includes editorial tools, subscription/membership support and site analytics, TownNews says.

Participating sites will have the ability to distribute their content on the TownNews Content Exchange, a network of more than 600 participating publishers nationwide.

According to the University of North Carolina's The Expanding News Desert report, between 1,300 and 1,400 communities have lost their papers since 2004, leaving them with no local coverage and creating news deserts.

The first site to launch on the new platform will be Link 2 Lee's Summit, covering Lee's Summit, Missouri.

“News Nirvana is an incubator for digital news start-ups,” said Rick Rogers, chief revenue officer at TownNews. "We're giving qualifying publishers access to a ‘light’ edition of the industry-leading platform that's used by more than 2,000 new organizations nationwide. They can get started without worrying about the technology — that part is covered.”