The growth of nonprofit news outlets in America means that more foundations, philanthropists and donors are supporting local news than in the past. And the push by the Local Media Association (LMA) and Report for America (RFA) to get for-profit newsrooms to begin fundraising campaigns means that donors are even giving to these commercial enterprises in growing numbers. With some recent research reports from the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), Media Impact Funders (MIF), LMA and RFA, the trend is now clear: philanthropy is a growing and stable source for funding for local news.
Of course that doesn’t mean that grants and donations will “save” the challenging business model of so many news organizations. It’s just another piece of the puzzle for publishers that have lost revenues from advertising due to the rise of digital ad giants Facebook, Google and recently Amazon. And philanthropy takes many shapes, with grants from national foundations and local place-based foundations coming in alongside donations from high net-worth individuals and average folks in communities.
Here’s a deeper look at the trends around philanthropic giving to local news, at nonprofit and for-profit news outlets, with some insight from key people at community foundations and a major donor.
Not surprisingly, nonprofit newsrooms are leaders in developing philanthropic giving, as that’s part of their DNA. And over the past few years, local nonprofit publishers are launching around the nation. Emily Roseman, research director & editor at INN, dug deeper into the numbers for me, finding that:
- The local sector of nonprofit news is growing rapidly, with an average of nearly one launch per month for each of the past three years.
- The number of local organizations has nearly doubled since 2016, and the newcomers often operate on much smaller budgets than their predecessors.
- Local news was once a small segment of nonprofit news. One in six outlets was local prior to 2008. Growth accelerated in 2018 as gaps in local news coverage widened.
- A total of 33 local outlets launched in 2018–2020, including 11 during the COVID crisis in 2020. Local nonprofit outlets now operate in 29 states.
Read the full article about philanthropy revenue source for news by Mark Glaser at Medium.
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