Considering that most people are unfamiliar with what it actually means to be a nonprofit news organization, the struggle to maintain newsworthy status while also getting funds is very prominent in this industry.
News organizations can gain 501(c)(3) status through the IRS by showing that they fulfill an educational need in society. This means that revenue goes back into the organization as opposed to stakeholders, and donations to this organization are tax deductible. Because of this fragile framework, these nonprofit news organizations have to spend a great deal of time prioritizing. According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2013, 54 percent of these organizations said their biggest staffing need is for the business related aspects of owning a nonprofit, such as fundraising and advertising. They are in a fragile state, because they have to worry about fundraising on top of promotions, and donor relations on top of news credibility.
The road ahead may not be that glum for nonprofit journalism, however. Fifty five percent of these organizations surveyed said they were positive about their future as a business. One thing that makes the outcome less clear is the fact that many rely on unpaid volunteers to supplement both full-time and part-time employees. This means that without the help of interns and general volunteers, this industry could fail very quickly.
In my opinion, I think the nonprofit journalism industry has the potential to flourish in today’s world. Their greatest staffing need is in fundraising and advertising, and I think that is exactly what they need. There are a reported 172 of these organizations. If they get a little exposure in the eyes of the general public, that could give them a competitive edge against the “big dogs” in the journalism industry. People want to support news organizations that are working towards the greater good of society; they just need to learn more about them.