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INN Index Snapshot 2023: Growing resources lead to sector expansion

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Quality of Coverage

Nonprofit news produces in-depth reporting

While some nonprofit outlets focus on reporting the news of the day, the sector is primarily made up of organizations that contribute in-depth, time-intensive news — investigations, enterprise and explanatory reporting. Many focus on covering and explaining complicated issues like local politics and government, environment and climate, and matters of inequality, justice and equity. Topics rarely prioritized by the sector, signaling an opportunity for the field, include faith and religion, childcare and caregiving, technology, and military and veterans issues.



Nonprofit news outlets focus on producing high-quality reporting. Since 2017, the field’s focus on investigative and explanatory journalism has remained consistent, with a slight increase year over year in the share of explanatory reporting and decline in investigative shops. Today, about a third of the field focuses on investigative journalism. One-sixth of outlets focus on deeply covering a single topic like criminal justice, education or gun violence. 

Many nonprofit news outlets say they produce this in-depth journalism for populations historically underserved by commercial media, including people of color as well as rural and low-income communities. About 40% of outlets say rural communities are a primary target audience of their coverage. INN’s Rural News Network (RNN) — a reporting consortium connecting about 70 outlets serving rural communities — is leveraging a network approach to sustainable news operations, story generation and dissemination. 

Nonprofit news outlets often collaborate editorially in order to produce more in-depth reporting and stories. A strong majority of outlets — 75% — participated in an editorial collaboration in 2022, with about half of those outlets participating in four or more editorial collaborations. 

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