Despite the chaos and uncertainty of 2020, it was a year of journalistic and financial growth for the nonprofit news industry, leaders said at the Institute for Nonprofit News’ annual conference last week. On Tuesday, INN released its annual report with more details.

Emily Roseman, INN’s research director, and Jesse Holcomb, an assistant professor of journalism and communication at Calvin College, said that INN members rose to every challenge the past year presented them with. Roseman and Holcomb believe that the increase in service journalism and the increase in NewsMatch donations has led to this type of growth.

INN surveyed 284 INN network newsrooms in January 2021, and 264 (94%) responded (the survey excludes service organizations that are also INN members). Of those newsrooms surveyed, 36% cover local issues, 24% cover state issues, and 21% are national outlets, while the remaining 10% and 9% are global and regional, respectively.

“Some [INN] members started up direct services for their audiences, others covered and gave context to the anti-racism movement last year, and reporters around the country put on their masks and conducted socially distant interviews with sources,” Roseman said. “It was just such a crazy and challenging year, and we just saw how nonprofit newsrooms kept producing coverage and stories for the public throughout.”

“Specialized reporting has migrated to nonprofits, many of which have become the ‘beat reporters’ for other media,” the report notes.

INN members published an average of 1,000 stories a day in 2020. On average, the survey found an increase in web traffic of 43% over 2019 and an increase in email newsletter signups of 36% across its member organizations, from a median of 5,300 subscribers in 2019 to around 7,200 in 2020. About 69% of responding newsrooms said they make a direct effort to cover communities of color and 21% said their primary mission is to do so. Holcomb said that going forward, the challenge for INN members will be to sustain and build on that growth.

Read the full article about nonprofit news outlets by Hanaa' Tameez at Nieman Lab.