March 11, 2014

McCormick, Ethics & Excellence in Journalism and Patterson Renew Their Commitment To Supporting Nonprofit Journalism Through INN

Today we'd like to take a moment to highlight the efforts of multiple foundations who are working with INN to build and promote long-term sustainability for independent nonprofit news publishers.

The McCormick Foundation is helping INN build an emergency legal fund for members.  Legal threats -- and the costs associated with defending against them -- can cause fledgling organizations to capsize.  INN and McCormick want to be there for independent nonprofit news organizations when emergency strikes.

"INN plays a pivotal role in offering support and vital services to its non-profit journalism members,” said McCormick Foundation Journalism Program Director Clark Bell. “Because of its leadership and innovative spirit, INN also has become a force in the news media field.”

Independent nonprofit news organizations must play both defense and offense in order to grow and thrive.  Two additional programs -- one aimed at giving critical business skills to nonprofit news entrepreneurs, and one aimed at developing innovative technology to convert readers into supporters of a news organization's work -- have powerful partners.

The Patterson Foundation is continuing to support Community Journalism Executive Training.  There's a strong need for business training for news entrepreneurs, many of whom are former journalists with a real passion for their work and their communities, but who lack professional experience in the kinds of skills that would help them make their organization a long-lasting, growing concern.

INN will be working to widen access to this program by offering additional in-person classes and in a new way: by developing and offering online classes around the CJET business skills curriculum.

The Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation has opted to extend their support of, INN's unique technology to combine social sharing with online fundraising. replaces typical social sharing tools with a share bar that allows visitors to a story to support the newsroom that produced it by sharing a link with their friends and followers online.



INN has conducted experiments with two groups of 15 newsrooms total to do early testing of this technology.   These tests yielded exciting insights:

  • Is it true that readers are only motivated to share listicles and cat slideshows?  No!  tests showed that the most-shared articles were meaty, longform investigative pieces.
  • Readers were offered the opportunity to donate an additional dollar of their own upon sharing a link to a news story.  Only one in ten of the readers who opted to donate donated a dollar.  Nine in ten gave more.
  • Sharing with a purpose may make sharing more effective: the number of times shared articles were clicked on rose for nearly all participants during tests.

EEJF's support will allow us to continue to work on the prototype in 2014.

In addition to support for specific programs, EEJF and McCormick opted to provide general support for INN, to ensure that we will be able to go on developing and providing innovative and useful services to the booming field of innovative, entrepreneurial nonprofit news organizations.

INN was founded in 2009 to help the increasing number of nonprofit newsrooms pool resources, promote editorial collaborations and get wider distribution of their work. INN is composed of organizations that produce nonpartisan investigative and public service journalism of regional, national and international scope. INN members produce original, multi-media longform and ongoing stories and analyses of public data to better inform the communities they serve.