SD News Watch team

How South Dakota News Watch uncovered abuses in a youth home and changed state policies

It was a story waiting too long for public attention: Some staff members at a rural facility housing young people with behavioral issues had physically, sexually and psychologically abused the children. South Dakota News Watch uncovered the story in June — resulting in the governor ordering an overhaul of the inspection processes for all youth treatment facilities in the state. The "Treatment or Trauma?" series exposed the harsh physical restraints on the residents that some employees of the facility regularly used — resulting in facial rug burns, black eyes, bloody noses, bruising and injured limbs. The story relied on a dozen on-the-record interviews and documents hard to obtain in a state with weak public records laws.

INN-led “Rust to Resilience” collaboration reaches 13 states and four national outlets

Climate change affects every person on this planet. In the Midwest and beyond, our members provide strong environmental coverage. Based on a conversation with the editor of a member newsroom about potential collaborations, INN decided to pursue a project about the Great Lakes. As with any collaboration, we wanted to help facilitate reporting that told a broader story than any individual outlet could provide. “From Rust to Resilience” was a collaborative reporting project that included six members of the Institute for Nonprofit News (Belt Magazine, The Conversation, Ensia, Great Lakes Now at Detroit Public Television, MinnPost and Side Effects Public Media at WFYI) as well as WUWM Milwaukee.

Introducing the journalism awards Google Calendar

Every day, I send out a newsletter with the best of nonprofit journalism from the Midwest, with an audience mostly comprised of nonprofit news editors. As the audience development specialist for INN’s Amplify News Project, I try to include other links that I’m seeing from the journalism industry that could be helpful for smaller outlets trying to grow their audience—events, trainings, guides, etc. The links for journalism award submissions are among the most clicked-on resources I share. Consistently. It’s no secret that journalists love awards.

Mother Jones: Legacy news magazine follows the readers to digital growth and nonprofit donor support

Case study co-published by Institute for Nonprofit News and the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. The PDF version from INN can be downloaded here and was designed by Elizabeth Scott. For five takeaway tips from this case study, click here. In February 2012, the nonprofit news organization Mother Jones published a seemingly ordinary story that would prove to change its fate. The story profiled a Republican donor, Frank VanderSloot, and among other things, his treatment of a gay journalist.

NewsMatch 2019 Campaign for Nonprofit News Was Best Year Yet: Raised $43.5 Million

Originally posted on NewsMatch's Medium page by Kip Dooley
June 3, 2020 — This month, NewsMatch kicks off its fifth funding cycle with the goal of helping scores of nonprofit newsrooms continue to inform their communities and provide in-depth coverage of critical social issues. Results from the 2019 NewsMatch cycle, published for the first time today, show that it was the most successful to date, with an initial pool of $3.37 million in philanthropic funds leveraged into a $43.5 million payout — a nearly 1,200% return on philanthropic investments that infused much-needed cash into independent newsrooms just as the coronavirus disrupted business as usual. Credible, local news is more critical than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to be a vital resource for voters during the 2020 election season. Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) members have found new and innovative ways to serve their communities during the current crisis: Outlier Media (Detroit, Mich.) has been providing vital health information via text message to residents without internet access; Chalkbeat (Colo.) created food maps for families that rely on school lunches; and countless others like CalMatters (Calif.) and East Lansing Info (East Lansing, Mich.) are providing real-time reporting on the local effects of COVID-19. Flyer from OutlierMedia.org
Results from NewsMatch 2019 show that communities are stepping up to support this kind of quality journalism: Last year, the dollar amount of local matching gifts during NewsMatch more than doubled to $1.4 million, while the number of individual donors increased by 26 percent.

Q&A with ProPublica’s Maya Miller on COVID-19 sourcing

As we move further into the pandemic, we've heard from member newsrooms that sourcing from medical communities can be somewhat of a challenge. We spoke to ProPublica Engagement Reporting Fellow Maya Miller on what's working for them, how the engagement and reporting teams created their callout form to find sources related to COVID-19 and more. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

INN: How early did you all post the callout form and what's the response been like? Maya Miller: We put this up February 28. (As of early March), we (had) about over 3,500 responses — about more than 1,000 of those are from doctors, nurses, medical providers, worried healthcare workers.

Steal These Ideas: Five Tips from the MoJo Case Study

Below are five lessons from MoJo’s experiences that other nonprofit investigative newsrooms can adapt and use. These tips stem from the INN/Shorenstein Center case study on Mother Jones, published Dec. 9, 2019. One: Treat your audience like your public board. By sharing strategic information like company financials and plans for the future, Mother Jones opened up a new relationship with its audience.