Several media organizations who covered the report emphasized authors’ Mayur Patel and Michele McLellan’s finding that nonprofit news sites have to act more like digital businesses, making revenue experimentation, entrepreneurship and community engagement important pieces of the mix.
Broadcasting and Cable wrote about the report’s implications for long-term sustainability for online nonprofit news sites:
“While the sites are likely to start with funding from foundations, the study says they need to treat that as equity rather than an ongoing revenue stream and look to supplement that with memberships, advertising, sponsorships and events, just as the for-profit sector does.”
Columbia Journalism Review focused on the importance of community engagement for local nonprofit news sites:
“Engagement is of particular importance to a community news site, and one of the more interesting points of the report is how some of these sites are serving their readers offline, at in person events. This year, Voice of San Diego launched “Politifest,” a day “of fun and lively civic involvement” which included a mayoral debate and an ideas contest. MinnPost holds an annual MinnRoast, which features “Journalists and politicians gently skewered,” and has proven a source of serious cash: the event raised $135,000 in 2010. The St. Louis Beacon hosts monthly discussions for community members, and features local art, music, and literary events at their annual Beacon Festival.
In its coverage, Poynter researcher and writer Rick Edmonds wrote about the possibility for continued growth in this sector:
“Five years ago, I thought Knight was being hasty in shifting funding focus so sharply away from experiments housed at newspapers and other traditional media. Now I am more inclined to think that the for-profit sector needs to fend for itself. Despite a much smaller scale, what Knight and these sites have been building is valuable — and has plenty of room still to grow.”
Poynter also hosted a live-chat with Joel Kramer from MinnPost and Melissa Bailey from the New Haven Independent about how nonprofit news sites can work towards sustainability.
During the chat, Bailey reflected on New Haven’s Independent history, noting:
“A general reflection, as we enter our 6th year in the business: We feel lucky we went the non-profit route, which helped us endure a recession while still expanding. We recognize that the next six years are going to take new solutions for sustainability...we're hoping partnerships may be part of the answer.”
Patel and McLellan also appeared on a PBS MediaShift podcast, where they discussed the report’s findings.
“Getting Local: How Nonprofit News Venture Seek Sustainability” features profiles of the Bay Citizen, ChiTown Daily News, Crosscut, St. Louis Beacon, MinnPost, New Haven Independent, Voice of San Diego and Texas Tribune.