As MSM Organizations Struggle, Nonprofit Journalism Outlets Are Playing an Increasingly Important Role. Will the Money Be There?
Staying Alive: As Traditional News Organizations Struggle, Nonprofit Journalism Outlets Are Playing an Increasingly Important Role. but Will the Money Be There to Enable Them to Go the Distance? « Sigmund, Carl and Alfred
On the face of it, the idea is outlandish: Take an aging but well-known musical that’s on stage at a local theater, examine the societal issues it raises and use it as the starting point for a reporting project that people will pay you to produce.
What would have been inconceivable in the second half of the 20th century, when fully staffed newspapers reaped mammoth profits from advertising, is just another creative way to keep journalism alive in a young century plagued by red ink, layoffs and a populace that looks to phones and comedians for news.
As newspapers continue to fold or shrink and journalists lose their jobs by the thousands, the more entrepreneurial in the field have turned to nonprofits as a way to fill the void in news and to keep reporters and editors employed. From the Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica to the short-lived Chicago News Cooperative, many dozens of journalism nonprofits have materialized in the past six years, each of them struggling to find just the right formula to stay afloat.
The journalism is the easy part. Supporting it is hard.
The burgeoning world of nonprofits offers journalists the chance to do quality work and to get in on something that is growing, changing and charting a new course. Exciting, sure. But nonprofits also are unpredictable, a result of their heavy reliance on foundations for money, and at times uncomfortable, as they require journalists to enter relationships with funders that in the past would have been taboo.
It is too soon to tell whether nonprofits are the key to journalism’s future. If they are not, perhaps they will serve as a bridge until we get there.
Depending, of course, on the money.