Nonprofit Journalism – A Growing but Fragile Part of the U.S. News System

July 9, 2013 in Resources, Revenue

The growing nonprofit news sector is showing some signs of economic health, and most leaders of those outlets express optimism about the future, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. But many of these organizations also face substantial challenges to their long-term financial well-being.

“The report finds that large, often one-time seed grants from foundations help many of these nonprofit news outlets get up and running. But as those grants expire, many organizations do not have the resources or expertise necessary for the business tasks needed to broaden the funding base.

“More than half of the nonprofit news organizations surveyed by the Pew Research Center in late 2012 (54%) identified business, marketing and fundraising as the area of greatest staffing need, compared with 39% who said the top need was for more editorial employees. In addition, nearly two-thirds of the nonprofits (62%) cited ‘finding the time to focus on the business side of the operation’ as a major challenge-compared with 55% who cited ‘increasing competition for grant money.’” Source: Amy Mitchell, Mark Jurkowitz, Jesse Holcomb, Jodi Enda and Monica Anderson, Pew Research Center

Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism released a study on the economic health of nonprofit news outlets, which the folks at Pew deemed a “growing but fragile” part of the nation’s news system. In their survey of 172 nonprofit news organizations – including The Alamedan – Pew’s researchers found that most were optimistic about the future, despite facing substantial challenges to their economic well-being.

“More than half of the 93 organizations that completed a detailed survey said they needed more staff to handle business, fundraising and marketing, while nearly two-thirds said finding time to attend to those tasks was a major challenge. Some 61 percent of the organizations said they got started with the aid of a major grant, grants most don’t expect will be renewed when the money runs out.

“We here at The Alamedan view the rise of the Web and its attendant proliferation of new tools as a tremendous opportunity to both restore a critical service that’s being lost as traditional news outlets decline and to improve on what you were getting before. But the new media landscape offers a host of challenges, fundraising primary among them.” Source: Michele Ellson, The Alamedan

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