The broken business model for traditional newspapers and their digital news site have left many communities seeking to find reliable news about their schools, local government agencies, the homeless and land-use decisions that impact their quality of life. Now non-profit news site have sprung up, and foundations are raising money to help local news operations stay afloat.
The Institute for Nonprofit News supports a network of more than 360 independent news organizations, and foundations such as Knight and Carnegie help fund local journalism across the country. The Carnegie Corporation of New York recently partnered with the Associated Press to fund a “reporting network aimed at deepening the news cooperative’s U.S. education coverage and strengthening education reporting across the news industry.”
This issue will be explored in depth in the latest Roger Tatarian Symposium, which will be held on Zoom at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb 23. Timothy Drachlis, the Roger Tatarian chair at Fresno State, has assembled a panel of experts to discuss this topic: “Can Nonprofit News Outlets Save Local Journalism?”
Panelists include Madeleine Bair, El Tímpano founder; Sue Cross, Institute for Nonprofit News; Leslie David, BenitoLink’s executive director; Ramona Giwargis, co-founder and CEO of San José Spotlight; and Ron Smith, editor of the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service.
Registration is free, but you must sign up here to attend the virtual symposium.
Foundations also are crucial in funding local journalism. I’m on the board of an organization called Journalism Funding Partners, which raises money for local journalism and also serves as a fiscal agent between foundations and newsrooms to meet IRS regulations. Since mid-2020, JFP has helped secure and is managing more than $3 million in grants to support new and expanded local journalism coverage.
The Poynter Institute reports that philanthropy has allowed for-profit newsrooms to pay for additional reporting resources. The Fresno Bee is an example. Funding that runs through the Central Valley Community Foundation has helped add 10 reporters to the newsroom.
The Seattle Times was a pioneer in seeking donations to support it’s journalism. From Poynter’s report: “In 2014, The Seattle Times started building ways to bring in philanthropic funding for its journalism. Now, it’s raised more than $5.5 million. The Times has an Investigative Journalism Fund, Project Homeless, Traffic Lab, Education Lab and is soon to launch a mental health project with that support.”
If you are interested in more details about non-profit news, please check out the Roger Tatarian Symposium at 6 p.m. Wednesday on Zoom.