This year, that kind of stability is important, as the pandemic has required clear and accurate information for communities that are hurting.

“The last year has made clear the importance of timely and truthful information that helps us to better understand the issues of our day and each other,” said Josh Stearns, program director of Public Square at the Democracy Fund. “COVID-19, economic recession, racial justice uprisings, and a polarizing election have demonstrated with glaring clarity the vital role of local news to our personal health and safety as well as the health and safety of our democracy. But even before this year, the data was clear that when communities lose local news we see lower voter turnout, fewer contested races, and more government corruption and waste.”

The following are five reasons nonprofit news has come of age this year.

  1. A business model tailored for tough times.
  2. NewsMatch connects more funders to nonprofit news.
  3. For-profits are becoming more like nonprofits (or just converting to them).
  4. Nonprofit news outlets are becoming more diverse and covering underserved communities.
  5. Collaboration has become a way of life for many nonprofit newsrooms.

For now, though, the burden is still on foundations and charitable individuals. “The reality is that across the globe most democratic nations have a robust noncommercial public interest media landscape, mostly publicly funded,” said Stearns of Democracy Fund. “In the U.S. we have far less public funding but we have a much more robust nonprofit and philanthropic sector. As the traditional business model that has supported local news erodes it’s critical for philanthropy to help preserve and reinvent journalism as a public good.”

Read the full article about nonprofit local news by Mark Glaser at Knight Foundation.