COVID-19: Resources for nonprofit newsrooms

FOR INN MEMBERS: What help do you need right now?

Share your COVID-19 needs

Journalism funders as well as INN and others are tracking your organizations’ needs and looking for resources for you as the coronavirus crisis develops. The button above allows you to log needs as they come up. We will be sharing those needs with journalism funders and key stakeholders.

This page will be updated as additional resources and information becomes available.

Trainings and Office Hours

Philanthropy Office Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays @ 2:00pm-4:00pm EST. CLICK HERE to book your 30 min spot.

INN Labs Office Hours: Join weekly on Fridays at 2 p.m. EST to discuss your technical needs or challenges or email the Labs team directly at support@inn.org.

Financial & fundraising resources

Trusting News published a prioritized list of advice and resources for building trust amid COVID-19 — one aspect has to do with explaining the financial challenge media outlets find themselves in.

CARES Act

The new massive piece of legislation contains many provisions of interest to charitable nonprofits, some of sector-wide import and others to specific subsectors (such as emergency funding for cultural organizations, higher education and community health centers). Read this useful guide from Nonprofit Quarterly to help gauge if your organization qualifies for CARES Act help.

This guide from The Chronicle of Philanthropy is updated daily and has a great wealth of information on COVID-19 funding and responses for nonprofits.

Grants & funding opportunities

INN is pleased to work with the Facebook Journalism Project on its $25 million COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund. Launching April 13, the fund provides grants to local news organizations across the U.S., nonprofit and for-profit, to help them continue serving their communities during the coronavirus outbreak. INN will help review grant applications from nonprofit news organizations. Learn more about the eligibility requirements, how to access the application and timeline from Facebook.

Google has launched a global Journalism Emergency Relief Fund through the Google News Initiative to support small and medium-sized news organizations producing original news for local communities. This call for proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis; apply now. 

Lenfest Institute has put together a list of grant opportunities to support COVID-19 coverage. This list will be updated; check back frequently.

Committee to Protect Journalists also has a list of emergency funds for journalists, from assistance to freelancers to funding for photographers and audio producers. This list will be updated; check back frequently.

The directory of grants from News Media Alliance now offers a tab for funding to support coronavirus coverage.

Funding opportunity for Chicago newsrooms: The Chicago COVID-19 Journalism Fund will support media organizations responding to local information needs related to COVID-19 and covering the public health emergency’s impact on Chicagoland communities. This fund was established by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Polk Bros. Foundation, and the Field Foundation to enhance the resiliency of Chicago’s critical news information ecosystem. The deadline to apply is April 15.

Economic Hardship Reporting Project and the South Asian Journalists Association are joining forces to offer members of the organization grants to report on the impact of coronavirus. To apply, send a brief pitch to economichardshipreporting@gmail.com.

The National Geographic Society is launching an emergency fund for journalists all over the world who wish to cover COVID-19 within their own communities. The fund will distribute support ranging from $1,000–8,000 USD for local coverage of the preparation, response and impact of this global pandemic as seen through evidence-based reporting. This call for proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis; apply now.

Knight Foundation has pledged local funds providing immediate relief in the eight cities where Knight has offices: Akron, OH; Charlotte, NC; Detroit, MI; Macon, GA; Miami, FL; Philadelphia, PA; San Jose, CA; St. Paul, MN. Contact your Knight relationship officer to learn more.

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting is seeking proposals that develop innovative approaches to reporting on the novel coronavirus crisis using collaboration among journalists and newsrooms across state lines or national borders. This grant opportunity is now open, and applications will be reviewed on a first-come, rolling basis. 

Insurance and legal resources 

Thank you to Sheppard Mullin, an international law firm, for putting together a list of COVID-19 state public health orders and their impact on news media.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has been comprehensively monitoring the federal, state, territorial, tribal, and local emergency responses to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus named COVID-19.

Democracy Fund hired a consultant to help put together some resources and questions around insurance that you might find useful in this time of COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic raises issues around insurance, including questions about liability for the wellbeing of staffers and freelancers. This FAQ attempts to quickly answer some of the important questions.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is outlining recommendations for journalists to ensure the press and public’s right of access to government information and proceedings is protected. Anyone who has updates about government responses to COVID-19 that impact newsgathering rights or public access can fill out this short form or submit them to media@rcfp.org.

Tech support available from INN Labs

We are aware that many of you may need technical support as you provide critical coverage of COVID-19. Here are ways in which INN Labs can help:

  • Homepage modifications to highlight COVID-19 stories or series of articles.
  • Building special series templates or landing pages featuring COVID-19 coverage.
  • Adding the Republication Tracker Tool to your articles to see who is republishing your articles and the full audience impact of your reporting.
  • Adding breaking news alerts to your homepage or sidebars.
  • Data interactives (any kind of maps or tables) to support your COVID-19 stories.
  • Presenting multimedia in new ways, such as embedded video, galleries, or expanded imagery.
  • Newsletters focusing on COVID-19 in your local area: building newsletter templates, or ways to promote on your website.

Please reach out to paola@inn.org with any questions or to request support from INN Labs.

Resources for reporters & photographers

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

The Maynard Institute shared inclusivity tips for journalists reporting on COVID-19. The institute also launched a series looking at how COVID-19 is being covered, with best practices on reporting inclusively.

Sign up for feedback about your COVID-19 data story. OpenNews will try to connect reporters with a peer coach who can help to think through reporting and analysis for COVID-19 data coverage.

From Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: Journalists working in areas subject to mandatory "social distancing" measures, particularly "shelter-in-place" orders, should, at a minimum:

  1. Carry press identification at all times;
  2. Carry contact information for an attorney (or the Reporters Committee’s hotline number: 1-800-336-4243);
  3. Stay in frequent contact with their employer;
  4. (4) carry a copy of any relevant local or state ordinance.

For areas that are particularly hard hit, journalists should consider best practices for reporting during natural disasters, such as this guide by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Thanks to the Lucie Foundation, which supports photography and visual arts, for sending us PhotoShelter's coronavirus resources roundup for photographers.

INN is contributing to Lenfest Institute's excellent link collection and we suggest you do, too: Here are resources to help local newsrooms cover the coronavirus pandemic ad adapt to remote work. Got a resource to share for reporters? Email Yossi Lichterman at joseph@lenfestinstitute.org.

Audience resources & sharing your coverage

The COVID-19 SoJo Exchange

Looking for solutions coverage of COVID-19 to republish in your news outlet under a Creative Commons license? Solutions Journalism Network is keeping a running list of solutions-focused COVID-19 coverage available for republication. If you have stories available, please reach out to them; instructions here.

Best practices on building audience

Many of you are seeing a spike in your readership due to COVID-19 coverage. This deck from News Revenue Hub compiles examples of best practices you can employ to fulfill your public service mission and optimize your audience in a time of confusion and concern.

Spotlight partnership

INN is partnering with Spotlight, a news aggregation app and website, where members can see all COVID-19 coverage from the INN network in one place, enabling accessible content sharing. All INN members are eligible and INN staff can handle onboarding any member who chooses to participate in the project.

Aside from easy content sharing, partnering with Spotlight offers a few additional benefits:

  • The platform also provides audience and revenue data to all of its partners; In addition to enabling us to collaborate, as the platform grows you will get 70% of the revenue generated by advertising on your stories. You will also be provided an audience dashboard so you can share information with your stakeholders.
  • You will get access to an existing audience that is, in many cases, younger than your regular audiences. Because Spotlight traditionally serves college media outlets, they have a very young audience that we hope will help you attract new audiences.
  • Over time, your content will also be fed into geographically-based feeds so that more people find your content, even if they may not know to look for you by name.

If you are willing to participate in this collaboration, and allow your COVID-19 coverage to be used by other INN members, all you need to do is sign the contract that can be found on the listserv and email it to tamer@spotlightnews.us. Please reach out jonathan@inn.org with any questions.

The sooner you move on this, the sooner we will be able to collaborate around COVID19. After we get ramped up, we will follow up with emails about where you can see all INN member COVID-19 content to repurpose on your own social and online channels.

INN promotion

We'd like to know more about your organization's coronavirus coverage, promote your work and amplify what nonprofit newsrooms are doing overall. To do that, we need your help tallying nonprofit news resources on the COVID-19 crisis. We also want to know your interest in a roundup of all nonprofit news coverage of the crisis, to make it easier to share.

Please take 3 minutes to let us know how your organization is covering coronavirus:

COVID-19 coverage form

Facebook promotion

Facebook is collecting timely, accurate information from partner news organizations.

If you'd like to share what you are creating to help your community stay updated, please email localnews@fb.com (and identify yourself as an INN member in the email) to tell Facebook if:

  • You provide coverage specifically for vulnerable communities (low-income workers, hourly workers, etc.) and share it to Facebook/Instagram platforms
  • You provide consistent, special coverage like Live town halls, Q&As with local health officials, pop-up newsletters, live blogs
  • You produce coronavirus coverage that overperforms with your Facebook or Instagram audiences, that is unique to your community

Facebook may use links you submit to drive where content appears across its platform.

Remote academic talks from INN members available for journalism educators

Are you a journalism educator, or do you work in another capacity at a journalism school around the US? Are you suddenly staring down weeks or months of online classes? INN has put together a database of dozens of journalists at our member organizations that would love to appear in your class via Zoom or some other platform. Access the database here and feel free to reach out to these experts through the email address provided.

Any INN members who would like to be added to the list can fill out this form.

INN Days postponed to Sept. 22 - Sept. 23

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, INN has made the decision to postpone INN Days 2020. The new dates for this conference are September 22-23, 2020. This convening will still be held at the Westin Alexandria Old Town in Alexandra, Virginia. We will hold virtual peer group meetups on June 15 and June 16 — more on that soon.

For those of you that have already registered, your registration will be automatically transferred to the new dates. If due to the adjusted dates you can no longer attend INN Days 2020, you can email tasha@inn.org to have your registration fully refunded.

If you have already booked your room, your reservation will automatically be cancelled and you will receive a full refund. A new link to book your hotel room for September will be available soon. If you have any trouble or questions, you can call the Westin hotel at (703) 253-8600.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and sincerely hope that you attend in September. If you have any questions or concerns you can contact Fran Scarlett directly at fran@inn.org. We will share more details about INN Days in the coming weeks.