Nonprofit news outlets face challenges

June 10, 2013
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Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism identified 172 "active non-profit news sites"/AFP
Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism identified 172 “active non-profit news sites”/AFP

, WASHINGTON, Jun 10 – Nonprofit news organizations have been making an impact in the US market but face financial challenges similar to those of their commercial counterparts, a study said Monday.

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism said it identified 172 “active nonprofit news sites” launched from 1987 to 2012, created by charitable foundations, individuals or ideological groups.

But in a study of 93 of the nonprofit outlets, more than half indicted that marketing and fundraising are major obstacles to their survival.

The study comes with the news industry struggling amid a shift to digital platforms. With many newspapers failing, talk has increased about the prospects for bringing civic organizations into the mix to keep the news flowing.

Amy Mitchell, a co-author of the study and acting director of project, said the nonprofit outlets “are a growing and potentially important source of news, but just like commercial journalism, they face financial challenges.”

“One clear takeaway from our new survey is that many of those running nonprofit news outlets do not feel sufficiently equipped to manage long-term business needs.”

Some of the news organizations get launched with seed grants “but after the grants expire, many sites lack the expertise and resources to tackle the business challenges and broaden their funding base,” said Mark Jurkowitz, a co-author of the report.

The study found nonprofit news outlets in all but nine US states. Some 21 percent focus on investigative reporting, and another 17 percent on government. Other areas include public and foreign affairs, the environment, health and arts and culture.

Despite the concerns, nonprofit news site operators express optimism about their future. Some 81 percent of the groups in the survey said they were “very” or “somewhat confident” they will be financially solvent in five years, and four in 10 predict they will hire new staff in the coming year.

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