Review of Nonprofit Local News Ventures

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Ongoing evaluation
Publication Date
Journalism & Media Innovation


Knight Foundation commissioned Community Wealth Ventures (CWV) to conduct a multi-phase project to review and support local nonprofit news ventures. The goal of the project is to provide opportunities for assessment and shared learning to help participating organizations advance in the areas of sustainability and revenue generation and to contribute to the field of knowledge regarding sustaining journalism enterprises. The project focused on a group of eight nonprofit local news ventures: Crosscut, Chi-Town Daily News, MinnPost, New Haven Independent, St. Louis Beacon, Texas Tribune, Voice of San Diego and The Bay Citizen

Key Questions

  • What are the varying revenue streams and cost structures for each local nonprofits news ventures?

  • What approaches and tactics has each organization used to strengthen its sustainability, and what have been the success and challenges?

  • How can Knight Foundation improve its efforts to strengthen the sustainability of local nonprofits news ventures?

Assessment Purpose and Approach: The project included an iterative research and analysis process focused on assessing the current state of the local nonprofit news ventures. The analysis was based on data collected from: CWV‘s Capacity Assessment completed by multiple leaders of each organization; telephone interviews with each organization‘s leadership team with questions about mission, business strategy, sustainability, financial details, and capacity; an intensive document review of strategic plans, historical financials, projected financials, marketing collateral and site analytics. CWV also engaged experts and industry leaders throughout the project as advisors.

Assessment Partner:  Community Wealth Ventures


The project, which launched at the beginning of 2010, was recently completed. Findings will be shared publicly in June 2011.

Projects discussed in this publication

To expand in-depth and explanatory coverage on an online news site called

The Bay Citizen

To help launch the The Bay Citizen, a nonprofit, nonpartisan member-supported news organization providing in-depth original reporting for the San Francisco Bay Area

The Texas Tribune

To launch The Texas Tribune, a new nonprofit statewide online news organization

Chi-Town Daily News

To expand the local reporting capacity of Chi-Town Daily News and provide a viable alternate local news site


To expand the local reporting capacity of and provide a viable alternate local news site

St. Louis Beacon

To expand the local reporting staff of the St. Louis Beacon and provide a viable alternative site for local news

Voice of San Diego

To expand the local reporting capacity of Voice of San Diego and provide a viable alternate local news site

About our Journalism & Media Innovation focus area

Our goal at Knight Foundation is to preserve the best aspects of journalism and use innovation to expand the impact of information in the digital age.

About our Grant Assessments methodology

As part of our grant making process, program teams work with grantees to establish indicators that will be tracked to provide feedback on project implementation and outcomes. In certain cases, we also partner with grantees to conduct in-depth third-party evaluations to understand the effectiveness and impact of specific projects.