Resources Index

Combining practical perspective on journalism in the public interest with sustainable income. “Intended to provide explicit strategic and tactical advice for growing earned revenue streams.”

Investigative News Network Report: Critical Strategies for Growing a Nonprofit Newsroom

This report is directed at the Investigative News Network membership and its supporters. It is intended to provide explicit strategic and tactical advice for growing earned revenue streams from audience development and paid distribution for the purpose of diversifying funding. It will also explain how those activities contribute to the overall operating health and sustainability of nonprofit investigative news organizations.

This work should be iterative; consider it a 1.0 release. As the movement continues to mature, these basic frameworks and assumptions will continue to evolve and best practices, solid performance measures, and realistic operating assumptions will codify.

We hope that this research will have broader interest outside INN and the foundations that support it, including members of the public and the growing diaspora of journalists leaving established news organizations that may be contemplating starting their own independent nonprofit news organizations.

What Will You Find?

  • The Landscape: An overview of market conditions that catapulted the nonprofit investigative news movement into existence. Many of these trends suggest a great deal of opportunity for nimble investigative journalism shops; however, the challenges of building economies of scale and managing multiple, fragile distribution channels and funding sources remain persistent.
  • Planning a Nonprofit News Organization: What are your mission, strategy and organizational archetypes? What kinds of journalism will you do and what impact do you want to have? How does your mission shape your product, distribution, and organizational and operating strategies (products, people and technology)? What will it take? Is it feasible?
  • Engaging Your Audience/Community: What is your target audience? Where will you reach it and how will you prove your impact? This paper will take a deep dive for INN membership on the fundamental questions regarding:
    • Audience Development: How should INN members go about conceiving and developing their own audience or strategy for having a site based on traffic vs. impact, etc.?
    • Distribution: How should INN members think about distribution? What does a partnership look like, and how should you negotiate one? How can you be compensated? Who are the best partners based on your goals?
  • Paths to Sustainability: What does success look like? How does your organization stay nimble and entrepreneurial, while at the same time maturing its operations? How will you grow earned revenues, chart a course to sustainability, and lessen your dependence on philanthropic support over time?
  • Conclusions: What does the future hold for nonprofit investigative journalism? We offer some suggestions and thoughts on the road ahead.
  • Appendix, Bibliography, Figures and Resources: Background material on this report, interviews, reference materials and the authors.”

Source: Investigative News Network

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