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Small Biz Survival

July 9, 2013 in Community, Resources

What can you expect to read here? Articles by and for small business people in rural areas and small towns. You face some special challenges in a small town small business, including:

  • Pressure from competitors in bigger cities
  • Pressure from competitors online, world wide
  • Scarce, or variable quality, resources to assist you locally
  • Tight labor supply, and a graying workforce
  • Lack of skills in your workforce
  • Isolation from your industry peers

But for each challenge, there is also opportunity:

  • The online market opens the world to you
  • Involvement in your community is your way to fight against decline
  • Land is usually cheap, compared to growing areas
  • Regulatory burdens tend to be lower than in well-developed regions
  • A little payroll usually goes a long way
  • Work ethic is usually high.”
    Source: Small Biz Survival

Nonprofit media report

March 11, 2013 in Policy, Resources

Over the last several decades, accountability reporting, especially at the local level, has contracted dramatically, with potentially grave consequences for communities, government responsiveness, and democracy. Nonprofit media has the potential to partly fill this vacuum but faces obstacles as a result of outdated IRS rules.

A report by the Nonprofit Media Working Group (NMWG) of the Council on Foundations [led by Steven Waldman], “The IRS and Nonprofit Media: Toward Creating a More Informed Public,” makes specific recommendations to the IRS that maintain essential distinctions between for-profit and nonprofit media but remove obstacles to the types of innovation that are needed to fill the gaps in nonprofit news, especially accountability journalism.

The report highlights five key problems with the current IRS approach:

  1. Applications for tax-exempt status are processed inconsistently and take too long. …
  2. The IRS approach appears to undervalue journalism. …
  3. The IRS approach appears to inhibit the long-term sustainability of tax-exempt media organizations. …
  4. Confusion may be inhibiting nonprofit entrepreneurs trying to address the information needs of communities. …
  5. The IRS approach does not sufficiently recognize the changing nature of digital media.”
    Source: Council on Foundations


The report looks at the experience of nonprofit media like The San Francisco Public Press, The Lens, The Chicago News Cooperative, and others, to diagnose problems in the IRS pipeline. The major ones: the lengthy and inconsistent process for granting tax-exempt status; confusion among current nonprofits over how they can conduct business; and a failure by the IRS to recognize how old distinctions between nonprofit and commercial media have been changed by new technology.

… The report recommends the IRS update its methodology for granting tax-exempt status by focusing on how media organizations provide a community benefit as well as discounting operational similarities between nonprofits and for-profits. Knight, Ford, and the Foundation Center also plan to work with Guidestar to create a better system to create a comprehensive database of nonprofit news sites and track the creation of new ones.” Source: Justin Ellis, Nieman Journalism Lab

2012: What we know now on building public trust, raising money and a free press powered by the people

January 23, 2013 in Blog, Revenue

Journalism Accelerator

Was 2012 prosperous for publishers? The four-part series continues, with this third installment offering key lessons from three well-respected practitioners known for thinking outside the box. Mike Fancher, veteran news business strategist; Lila LaHood, director of operations and development at San Francisco Public Press; and Keith Hammonds, director of Ashoka’s Knowledge Initiative, offer their unique perspectives. Fancher sums it up as such: “News businesses – emerging or legacy, large or small – won’t be relevant and economically viable if journalists don’t feel a personal responsibility to make public engagement a core tenet of their work.” LaHood offers insights from the nonprofit trenches: “We learned that we weren’t giving our supporters enough different opportunities to support our brand of local public-interest journalism.” And Hammond sees the opportunity to act as a changemaker is to “produce content that’s relevant; connect it to mechanisms that help citizens and communities make change; articulate a value proposition and (not least) ask to be paid.” See their contributions below for useful context you can compare your experience against. Check back next week as we offer the fourth and final post in this series, with contributions from Josh Stearns of Free Press, Mark Glaser of PBS Media Shift and Dan Moulthrop of The Civic Commons. Read the rest of this entry →

2012: What we know now on local advertising, meeting the needs of communities and customer connection

January 9, 2013 in Blog, Community

Journalism Accelerator

As part of the larger story, the top lessons from a range of perspectives learned over 2012 is a four-part series the JA is running over the month of January. This is the second part of the series and features three thought leaders – Dick O’Hare, CEO & founder of Local Yokel Media; John Garrett, CEO and publisher of Community Impact Newspaper; and Laura Rich, co-founder of Street Fight – offering their insights. Together our initial think group shared a collective sense in early 2012 that publishers could benefit from a roadmap of the many small steps needed to increase and stabilize revenue across the industry. These additional contributors offer the lessons they’ve learned leading and growing successful new companies; all of them launched five years ago or less. Read the rest of this entry →

Was 2012 the year of the prosperous publisher? What we know now

January 2, 2013 in Blog, Revenue

Change Ahead

If 2012 was any indication, 2013 holds great promise for new revenue tracks, new partnerships and adapting to best practices to not just serve, but delight, audiences.

Journalism Accelerator

In early 2012, just about a year ago, we invited a half-dozen people with a range of unique roles in the news production mix, to identify the most crucial challenges facing publishers at that moment in time. No enormous surprise: Money was the top concern. More specifically, a collective sense emerged that publishers could benefit from a roadmap of the many small steps needed to increase and stabilize revenue across the industry.

As 2012 drew to a close, we once more turned to these insightful people (listed to the right), asking each to share what he or she learned over the course of this chapter in the evolving story of journalism. We also asked a number of other leaders across the industry to share what they learned in 2012. You’ll see excerpts in this post, with their full stories offered as a series that will post over the month of January.
Read the rest of this entry →