by Jim Heaney, editor of Investigative Post
Joshua Sterns went looking for a couple of non-profit news organizations to donate to. He’s got a bird’s eye view of the press as journalism and public media campaign director of Free Press, a national media reform organization. He cast his net yet wider by soliciting suggestions from readers via his blog, on which he wrote:
We are at an exciting moment when it is now possible to imagine nonprofit journalism becoming a much more prominent part of America’s media ecosystem. But to make the leap from start-up to sustainability we need to step up our support for nonprofit news and encourage others to do the same.
Other than donating to their public broadcasting stations, for the most part people are not used to donating to support the journalism they get in their inbox or their mailbox, in their Twitter stream or via their Facebook wall. That has to change.
Sterns received more than 30 tweets and responded:
It was wonderful to be introduced to so many fantastic organizations through this process … Michael Marcotte had a great tweet that started, “I give where I live.” I can relate to that sentiment. But of all the organizations that were suggested, I decided to choose two that were in communities far from my own location, specifically, in places where nonprofit news is working to get a foothold.
Sterns explained his reasoning in a phone interview I had with him last week.
“I wanted to do something that highlighted how we need to start to support journalism in new ways,” he told me.
What impressed him about Investigative Post?
“Two things struck me,” he said. “I’ve heard a lot about the dwindling news resources in Buffalo. You guys are clearly doing high-quality work and Buffalo is the kind of place that desperately needs new journalistic energy.
“The future of journalism depends on communities being deeply engaged in helping to support and helping to produce news. For a long time, it was enough to be a subscriber or a member of the audience, but now we need people to be partners to ensure that communities have the news they need.
“People are very used to supporting their local animal shelter or Red Cross, but it’s important to support news organizations that cover them, too,” he concluded.
Sterns’ endorsement is gratifying. Investigative Post celebrates its first anniversary this Friday and we’re in the midst of a membership drive.
We’ve enjoyed the generous support of several foundations and major donors who are in a financial position to write us substantial checks. We’ll continue to need their support, but in the long run, Investigative Post requires a broad base of grassroots supporters, much like public broadcasting. We need folks who can make a $50, $100, $250 donation – no amount is too small – to help us grow our fledgling news organization.
As Sterns told his readers:
Foundations have helped to jump start nonprofit journalism but communities are going to be what sustains it over the long haul. Let’s start now.
I am passionate in my belief that we are growing an important community institution and hope you, too, see value in what we are building at Investigative Post. If you do, I encourage you to join Josh Sterns and donate now.