Is the non-profit journalism model viable? The four panelists at Saturday’s early morning session say yes. The four organizations the panelists represent, Voice of San Diego, Capitol News Connection, Huffington Post Investigative Fund, and ProPublica, have different funding profiles that mix the expected foundation grants, and add (depending on the organization) private funding, fee-for-service payments, or individual donations.
Capitol News Connection provides a sort of outsourced Capitol bureau for National Public Radio stations nationwide. Capitol News Connection executive director Melinda Wittstock said that she has noticed that similar organizations have hit their stride when they hired a dedicated development, or fundraising, staffer. She noted that Capitol News Connection is caught in a funding Catch-22 in that they can’t get the funding to pay a development staffer’s salary.
Nick Penniman, executive director of the Huffington Posts Investigative Fund, said that while major foundations have not traditionally funded journalism, the crisis in the newspaper industry has woken them up to the need. The Fund’s Creative Commons license, which allows any news organization to use the work produced by the organization the moment it becomes available, provides the mechanism so the foundation is funding work for the public good, and not a particular (for-profit) news organization.