Seeking Sustainability: A Nonprofit News Roundtable

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Journalism, Media Innovation


The report summarizes the proceedings of the Knight-sponsored Seeking Sustainability roundtable featuring 12 nonprofit news organizations, as well as funders, academics and researchers.

Recognizing that the success and longevity of nonprofit news start-ups depends on their ability to find financial, organizational and technological sustainability, Knight Foundation, in partnership with the Voice of San Diego, Texas Tribune and the Knight Center at the University of Texas at Austin, organized the roundtable.

The roundtable addressed challenges such as:

  • How can we create, strengthen and protect informed communities and local information ecosystems, of which journalism is a necessary component? 

  • How do we define “sustainability”?

  • What is the role of partnerships between nonprofit groups and traditional media? Report Partner: The report was produced by Christopher Sopher.


  • Entrepreneurship – Topics cover start-up mentality and models, adaptability, recruitment and editorial influence of boards of directors, and partnerships and collaboration.

  • Revenue – Membership fees, public media model, advertising and sponsorships, pricing content and a look at the Texas Tribune as a case study.

  • Engagement – Creating internal community vs. pushing content into the stream; how to use reader comments to foster discussion.

  • Technology – Key topics include incorporate vs. innovate, mobile apps, business models, and collaboration and frameworks.

Projects discussed in this publication

The Texas Tribune

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

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 focus area

We support people and organizations committed to advancing excellence in journalism and informing people in communities of all sizes through experimentation, innovation and leadership.

About our Field research methodology

Field research is primary and secondary research done for Knight Foundation.