Prologue

“We, representatives of nonprofit news organizations, gather at a time when investigative reporting, so crucial to a functioning democracy, is under threat. There is an urgent need to nourish and sustain the emerging investigative jour- nalism ecosystem to better serve the public.”

– The Pocantico Declaration, July 1, 2009.

Charles Lewis’s words in that declaration remain true today. Since its inception in July 2009, the Investigative News Network has moved from concept to reality. Our nonprofit member organiza- tions are actively engaged in multiple collaborative, cost saving and revenue generating pro- grams designed to help shine a continued bright light into the corners of our society and hold the powers that be accountable.

Our movement has become a viable force in the production of independent reporting focused on the important stories that commercial media cannot. In fact, INN members are 100% focused on consistently producing this important and expensive content. That said, these are tough econom- ic times and the models to support journalism – in both the commercial and nonprofit sectors – are in flux.

We understand that without philanthropy, especially support from national foundations focused on journalism, our nonprofit movement would not exist. We also understand that these founda- tions cannot be expected to foot the bill indefinitely and that our member organizations must increase the number of revenue streams supporting their journalism including related earned income and increased local community support.

The problems that today’s news organizations face are complex for even the savviest publisher and can be daunting for journalists who newly find themselves in the role of entrepreneur. It is essential, therefore, that we work to share knowledge within our community to provide practical guidance on how to tackle the important issues of audience and revenue development. That is the purpose of this, INN’s first whitepaper.

Whether you are a start-up nonprofit journalism organization looking for concrete steps to take towards sustainability, or a donor seeking to support a nonprofit, this paper offers practical information for you.

It is the first in what we hope will become a series of equally practically focused documents that will help organizations within our network develop robust, sustainable and valued information streams that serve well-defined constituencies.

The report that you are about to read took many hundreds of hours of work and included over 50 interviews with knowledgeable people including members, customers and foundations who were willing to share their knowledge and sacrifice their valuable time in order to make this work possible.

I would like to thank principal author Elizabeth Osder, editor Evelyn Larrubia and contributing writer and research analyst Kaizar Campwala for their unswerving devotion to the project.

I would also like to express deep gratitude to the foundations and philanthropists that support the Investigative News Network in order to make our services available to the nonprofit journalis- tic community as a whole — and to the INN Board, whose guidance and insight keep us focused on the issues that are most important to our membership.

Thank you to the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Open Society Foundation, the Knight Foundation and R. B. “Buzz” Woolley, Jr. Without your devotion, insight and vision, none of this would be possible.

Lastly, I would like to thank the hard-working journalists who had the courage to launch these cutting-edge newsrooms, not for personal aggrandizement or gain, but solely because of their rock-solid belief in the importance of an informed populace.

Kevin Davis