Giving Compass' Take:

• The author explains the driving forces behind nonprofit media growth and the allocation of funds to different sized media organizations. 

• Philanthropists fund media companies because democracy cannot thrive without bringing true news to the citizens. What can philanthropists do about the onset of fake news and the effect on democracy? 

• Read about the growth and opportunities for online journalism. 

The man best known for founding the digital classified listing service Craigslist recently gave a New York City journalism school US$20 million. His gift was big enough to prompt rebranding at what will now be called the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.

Newmark’s big gift made a big splash, but charitable gifts that support the media are pretty common. Some 6,568 foundations gave nonprofit media outlets a total of $1.8 billion distributed between 2010 and 2015, according to a recent study.

According to Sue Cross, the institute’s executive director and CEO, there are approximately 270 U.S. nonprofit news sites today, 165 of which are annual dues-paying members of her organization. Some are small with a handful of staffers. A few are much bigger.

I expect nonprofit daily news sites of that kind to become more common due to the collapse of commercial newspaper and television newsroom staff levels, which have weakened news coverage capacities.

Public media operations like National Public Radio, Public Broadcasting Service and individual broadcast stations get nearly half of the media funding foundations parcel out: $800 million, or 44.3 percent of that $1.8 billion distributed between 2010 and 2015, according to a study from the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and Northeastern University’s School of Journalism.

National nonprofit media organizations such as ProPublica and the Center for Investigative Reporting took in $220 million. Local nonprofit news outfits pulled in $80 million, and university-based journalism initiatives drew $36 million in grants over this same period.

Why are foundations, individual philanthropists and now states pouring more money into the media? The answer is very simple. Without credible news and information, and thus a public that’s at least somewhat informed about the uses and abuses of power, a healthy democracy is not possible.

Read the full article about nonprofit media growth by Charles Lewis at The Conversation