Threatens News IndependenceAct IndependentlyJournalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than thepublics right to know.Journalists should:—Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.— Remain free of associations and activities that may compromiseintegrity or damage credibility.— Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shunsecondary employment, political involvement, public office and servicein community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.— Disclose unavoidable conflicts.— Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with poweraccountable.— Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests andresist their pressure to influence news coverage.— Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoidbidding for news. —Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics
Threatens News Independence Commercial outlets may reflect an owner bias, but this is countered by One of the primary the need to attract (and keep) qualities of good readers and viewers. The most journalism is successful news outlets are overtly independence—you commercial. don‘t owe allegiance to Nonprofit news orgs typically anybody. No matter measure their success in terms of how well-intentioned influence, not audience, because the charitable their customers are the donors organization is, you whove donated money to lose some of that influence politics, promote justice, or independence. otherwise build a better world. —Steven DukeSource: Medill Associate Professor with 25+―Nonprofit Journalism Comes at a Cost: The downside of nonprofit news years in newspapers & magazinesorganizations like MinnPost, Voice of San Diego, and the WashingtonIndependent,‖ Slate, Jack Shafer, Sept. 30, 2009
Threatens News Independence According to a Pew 2011 poll, 77% of Anybody who invests a Americans think news organizations tend lot of money in a to favor one side while reporting. 80% newspaper wants believe journalism is influenced by powerful people or organizations and 63% something out of it. The think media are politically biased. Chicago Sun-Times was started by Marshall Field If the public distrusts independent, because he wanted a profitable news orgs, why would they turn voice for his empire. to one backed by foundations, corporate —Scott B. Anderson sponsors, and wealthy people? Medill Assistant Professor with 30+ years in the media industry Can nonprofit news orgs achieve any product that runs counter to the interests to those that have contributed large sums of cash? How do you control perception?Source:―Press Widely Criticized, But Trusted More than Other InformationSources,‖ Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, Sept. 2011
Threatens News Independence A 2011 Pew study of 46 national They‘ve got an and state-level nonprofit news websites, and the 68 institutions agenda. There‘s a and individuals that financially certain kind of thing back them, found that half they [philanthropic “produced news coverage that foundations] want to was clearly ideological in nature” fund. You have to thread the needle Of the 1,203 stories analyzed, the majority presented a narrow between what they range of perspectives on the want to fund and topics covered. 50% offered just a what you want to single point of view on do. controversial issues. Only 2% contained more than two points —Rich Gordon Medill Professor, Director of of view. Source: ―Non-Profit News: Assessing a New Digital Innovation Landscape In Journalism,‖Expert on online communities Pew Research Center for & online advertising Excellence in Journalism, July 2011
Ignores Audience Without being forced to compete Foundations lack the three in the marketplace for audience chastising disciplines of dollars, nonprofit news orgs move American life: the market away from a mass audience and test, which punishes or toward the audience of rewards financial ―evaluators, policy-makers and performance; the ballot other elites.‖ box, through which the numbskulls can be voted out of office; and the ministrations of an irreverent press biting at your heads every day. —Former Rockefeller Foundation President Peter C. Goldmark Jr.Source: Rockefeller Foundation 1997 Annual Report―Foundation-Funded Journalism: Reasons to be wary of charitablesupport,‖ Journalism Studies, Harry Browne, Sept. 2010
Ignores Audience News organizations have Non-profit organizations wouldn‘t want to report something that could a responsibility to their potentially hurt the reputation they readers to report both have with their funder, so they may sides of the issue and not play down the story. leave any gaps in In the case of the Texas Tribune, coverage regardless of Stephen Robert Morse, Tow-Knight where they get their Entrepreneurial Journalism Fellow at funding. the City University of New York, wrote that an insider informed him: ―Because it is important for The Trib to maintain positive relations with donors, the organization rarely takes strong stances on issues.‖Source:―The Texas Tribune‘s non-profit business model is harming for-profitjournalism in Texas…‖, Stephen Robert Morse‘s Media Blog, March 2012
Hides Roots From Audience NONE of the supporting foundations, corporations, and individuals on The Bay Citizen, California Watch, CIR, MinnPost, The St. Louis Beacon, The Texas Tribune, The Voice of San Diego have LINKS. Do you know who they are? Would the average news consumer? Would they look any of them up online?
Hides from Audience An audience can tell when a for-profit business buys an ad. It is transparent: GM wants to sell you cars. When a non-profit buys an ―ad‖ you don‘t know what its agenda may be. —Caryn Ward Brooks Medill Assistant Professor with 25+ years of TV news experience One striking feature across many of the nonprofit news sites examined by Pew in 2011 was that while they may have been forthcoming about who their funders were, often the funders themselves were much less clear about their own sources of income. ―This effectively made the first level of transparency incomplete and shielded the actual financing behind the news site. The chief funders listed for nearly two-thirds of the sites studied-28 in all-did not disclose where their money came from.‖ Source: ―Non-Profit News: Assessing a New Landscape In Journalism,‖ Pew Research Center for Excellence in Journalism, July 2011
Lacks Sustainability A philanthropically supported news organization is a rigid structure that can be at the mercy of its foundation‘s or corporate sponsor‘s funds. The availability of this money, and the donors‘ interests to allocate it, can dramatically fluctuate and threaten the future of a publication. Unlike with a non-profit, covering a negative story of a donor in a paywall and/or ad-supported system does not threaten the entire cash flow for the company. Journalism needs to be confident in itself and that we‘ll attract money—ads and subscribers—because of what we do. The ‗I‘m in need of welfare‘ makes journalists a supplicant in that dynamic. —Marcel Pacatte Medill Assistant Professor and Managing Editor of the Medill News Service Has worked at six newspapers
Lacks Sustainability The sources of money are not that large of pools. There is only a handful of foundations that have historically funded journalism. (John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation…) Foundations are having a hard time keeping with demands from the array of non-profit groups. The Carnegie Corporation vice president said in an analysis of non-profit media that: ―Every time I turn around, there are a few more news organizations, but we don‘t have more money. We have less money.‖ Source: ―Re-imagining Education Journalism,‖ Goverance Studies at Brookings, Darrell M. West, Grover J. ―Russ‖ Whitehurst, E.J. Dionne, Jr., May 2010
Is a Fallible Source of Revenue It‘s much more important to continue growing advertising. New-media consultantIf you rely on Merrill Brown says foundation-funded journalism is merely ―a distraction for howadvertising and you journalism is going to thrive in the future.‖piss one off, you stillhave 99 advertisers. Philanthropists get tired of funding things and they move on. It‘s not a viable, long-If you anger the one term model in an industry that still generatesfoundation you $35 B per year.have, that‘s it. Thead-supported model Better options: print and digital ad revenue, print and digital subscriptions, paywallsis much safer.‖ The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, The Chicago Sun- —Rich Gordon Times (and soon, The Chicago Tribune) are among 150 Medill Professor, Director of dailies with a form of digital subscription service. 323 news orgs have signed on with Press+. Digital Innovation Expert on online communities Sources: & online advertising ―Philanthropic Foundations: Growing Funders of the News,‖ Annenberg School for Communication University of Southern California, David Westphal, July 2009 ―Wait — so how many newspapers have paywalls?,‖ Nieman Journalism Lab, April 5, 2012 ―RR Donnelley‘s Press+ Blows Through ―300‖ Milestone,‖ Press+ Release, April 2, 2012
Is a big ? for the IRS ―…there are a number of concerns about where journalism fits within current 501c(3) status. They [IRS] do not consider journalism to be a charitable function. Another issue seems to be how we are substantively different from commercial models.‖ --Kevin Davis, Investigative News Network The IRS is slowing down or blocking approvals of tax-exempt status for nonprofit news startups. The Chicago News Cooperative shuttered after failure to receive tax-exempt status, and its foundations declined to fund the effort in a sustainable manner. Sources: The San Francisco Public Press has been waiting since January ―Making a Difference: Philanthropy and the Future of 2010 Local Accountability Journalism,‖ Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, The Investigative News Network has been waiting since July Leonard Downie Jr., Weil Family Professor of Journalism and Vice President at Large, The Washington Post, 2010 Feb. 2012 The Lens (New Orleans) has been waiting since Fall 2010 ―Will the IRS Derail Nonprofit Journalism? At a crucial moment, the taxman drags his feet on granting tax- exempt status,,‖ Columbia Journalism Review, Steven Waldman, Nov. 2011
In conclusion… Non-profit funded journalism won‘t work because: The lack of Independence reporters and every member of the news media organization would have when deciding story coverage. A journalist‘s obligation is to his or her audience not the source (information source or financial source). The lack of transparency with the agency funding the news business. A viewer can not readily see the agenda of a non-profit making it impossible to discern bias of the donors. The uncertain sustainability of the non-profit news organization. Foundations and sponsors can easily change its agenda and decide to allocate its money to another project – leaving the news business in the hole.