Recent Articles

INN provides Policy on Editorial Independence for member organizations

The Investigative News Network is providing a new Policy on Editorial Independence for its member newsrooms.

The policy, approved by the INN board of directors during a meeting on January 5, 2015, is intended to set expectations for donors to member organizations and help ensure that they don't try to exert influence over the members' editorial process. While there are many different business models among INN's more than 100 members, most nonprofit newsrooms are funded largely by philanthropic foundations and private membership. Though it is entirely optional, INN suggests its members adopt the policy, post it on their website and provide a copy for each of their funders. Policy on Editorial Independence for INN member organizations. We subscribe to INN’s standards of editorial independence as follows:

Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. Continue Reading →

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Mobile Fundraising: Why aren’t we there yet?

It is the year 2014 and mobile technology is already advancing many aspects of journalism including crowdsourcing, geotagging and augmented reality. For the nonprofits that rely on donations, however, mobile fundraising presents an intriguing opportunity toward sustainability. But how quickly is mobile technology moving into the realm of fundraising? That's a question Richard McPherson tackles in this latest piece titled 'Mobile Fundraising: Why aren't we there yet?'. McPherson, a San Francisco-based fundraising consultant, looks at the challenges of mobile fundraising, why it's so hard to do, and how it has evolved. For any organization that has considered doing mobile fundraising, he offers this insight:

Learn the facts and issues. Your schedule should include at least a quarterly webinar on mobile giving from Heather Mansfield, Darian Rodriguez Heyman, or from one of the mobile campaign companies listed here. Continue Reading →

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Kickstarter launches category for journalism projects

Kickstarter has launched a new category dedicated to funding journalism projects, the company announced on its blog today. Journalism is now one in a list of 16 categories, each with their own subcategories, including subcategories for journalism projects that are based on audio, photo, print, video and web.  

"To us, that means it’s more important than ever to make sure journalists have the tools and resources to try new things — whether they’re professionals looking for innovative ways of funding and sharing their work, or ordinary folks with a hunger to tell the stories around them," the company said on its blog. Explore the journalism projects here and tell us what you think. Continue Reading →

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VIDEO: Google Hangout Conversation Between INN Members & Knight Foundation On Nonprofit News Sustainability

Today INN hosted a Google Hangout with representatives of the Knight Foundation on the topic of nonprofit news sustainability with the authors of Knight's recent report, "Finding a Foothold: How Nonprofit News Organizations Seek Sustainability." The report gives readers a deep dive into 18 nonprofit news organizations, how they bring in money to support their work, and how that's changed over time. Key questions addressed during this conversation include:

What's the right mix when it comes to devoting resources toward core editorial functions and efforts like marketing and fundraising? What are the most common ways news nonprofits create earned revenue? What doesn't work? Continue Reading →

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Nonprofit or not, investigative news organizations are still businesses

INN executive director Kevin Davis weighed in on the recent study on revenue sources for nonprofit newsrooms on the Knight Blog:

“Finding a Foothold” validated what we here at the Investigative News Network have been preaching for sometime: that nonprofit newsrooms are first and foremost mission-driven businesses. While nonprofits are traditionally thought of as “charitable organizations,” this report correctly underscores that successful nonprofits must develop multiple revenue streams that are consistent with their mission.  Continue Reading →

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How News Startups Can Convert Readers To Members

Mary Walter-Smith, head of Voice of San Diego's membership operations


Mary Walter-Brown, head of advancement for the Voice of San Diego, spoke to news entrepreneurs at CJET on the nuts and bolts of building a membership program to support an independent journalism organization. "At the bare minimum, I encourage you to do reader surveys -- we did them through SurveyMonkey and it was very easy to administrate," Walter-Brown says.  "But break the target audience for your survey into segments."  Walter-Brown says Voice of San Diego broke survey respondents into groups -- people who had given the site money and those who hadn't; people who were subscribers to the organization's email list, and then for readers who engaged with specific beats, like the arts. "We asked what devices they used. Continue Reading →

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News Startups Accelerate at CJET

Lila LaHood, Publisher, SF Public Press, presenting at CJET

Over the next two days, a select group of investigative and community news startups will gather together to work out step-by-step plans to make their organization thrive for years to come.  CJET helps the people who drive new online news organizations build business skills and work out a plan that will bring them to financial sustainability. Continue Reading →

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What is the “secret sauce” of online news sustainability?


Michele McLellan started out with a list -- "Michele's List," which counted online news sites that had "journalistic DNA."  As a fellow at the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Missouri, she focused on these sites -- how many of them were there, and how many of them would survive? Today at CJET (Community Journalism Executive Training) in Santa Barbara, she presented her new research to independent online news publishers who were taking part in business training aimed at creating sustainable journalism organizations. "I think I'm going to be a little 'tough love' with you guys," she said. "The love piece is that you folks are just doing amazing work and the passion and energy you put into your work is something I'm in awe of. Continue Reading →

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