Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nonprofit And For-Profit Newsrooms Working Together

Nonprofit organizations partnering with for-profit corporations is nothing new but in recent years they've become more commonplace.  When there is a common goal, these partnerships can be very fruitful.  And now, for-profit and nonprofit newsrooms are discovering they need each other.

The PBS website MediaShift, in conjunction with the Investigative Reporting Program, conducted a roundtable discussion with local media experts on this subject.  With budgets tightening at newsrooms across the country, established media outlets are finding they don't have the resources for extensive investigative reports.  Spending six months on a story isn't exactly the best way to make money.  That's where nonprofit news organizations come in. 

Sites like the Voice of San Diego and the St. Louis Beacon have been popping up, filling the gap in investigative journalism.  Major news outlets, not wanting to lose this area of reporting entirely, have found that working with these nonprofit news sites makes for a partnership that benefits both sides.  This benefit can be seen in a recent project by Frontline, an investigation show hosted on PBS.  They worked with PBS, The Guardian, and CBC on a project, and found that they were able to accomplish a lot more by sharing resources.

It's not all roses and sunshine, though.  Mary Walter-Brown, who works at the Voice of San Diego, spoke to the roundtable discussion about her experience partnering with a local NBC affiliate.  They would often have people from the Voice as experts, but Brown says they still have trouble getting them to explain their mission to viewers. It seems some fledgling news organizations seeking nonprofit status also are having difficulty explaining their mission to the IRS.

We recommend that you read the rest of the roundtable discussion on PBS's website.  What do you think of the stories they shared there?  Has your organization had similar experiences in their partnerships with for-profits?

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