Some good news came the other day that is symbolic of the hard work fledgling nonprofit news organizations are doing to put their digital newsrooms on more stable footing. The story came in the form of an official report on grant from Boston University’s New England Center for Investigative Reporting. The center is one of the nonprofit news organizations Knight has supported as we helped partners experiment with different models for replacing at least some of the “missing journalism” communities need to be informed and engaged.
You can see the story in the pie charts. The investigative center, which reports important stories throughout New England, is now pulling in more than $340,000 a year from non-foundation sources. This means its “earned revenue” triples, mostly through a high school journalism training program. That’s good – what you want is a pie chart with a lot of fat slices. In the details below, look at is how deliberate the center is: It tries a lot of different revenue ideas, since different things work in different community media ecosystems. It quickly evaluates each new attempt, dropping the ones that fail and doubling-down on the ones that work. It brings in professional development staff and business consultants as needed.