Introducing INN Index 2018: The state of nonprofit news

INN announced the release of the most comprehensive study of nonprofit news today, INN Index, thanks to generous support from Democracy Fund and the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation. The study was based on a survey of INN members conducted in the spring of 2018.

Key findings from the study are: single-subject news is one of the fastest-growing sectors of nonprofit media, more than half of nonprofit newsrooms are generating more than $500,000 in revenue a year and are starting to diversify revenue sources, and two-thirds of resources typically go to editorial operations.

The study also found opportunities for the industry: diversifying revenue sources, investing in business development and growing targeted audiences.

To view the executive summary and read the full key findings, visit or download the PDF here. To read the full 24-page report, download here.

To celebrate the launch of INN Index, media researcher and data analyst Jesse Holcomb, study designer and independent media expert Michele McLellan, INN Executive Director Sue Cross, and other media leaders will present baseline findings and lead an open discussion about the possible paths ahead for nonprofit journalists and the emergence of this field as a new kind of civil society news network at CUNY's Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at 6:30 p.m. today and at Stanford University at 10 a.m. on Oct. 5.

INN plans to track and follow trends through the survey in future years.

About the survey

The survey of members of the Institute for Nonprofit News was conducted online in March-May 2018. A total of 149 INN members were invited to complete the survey. This report reflects responses of 88 participants to an extensive questionnaire that yielded about 200 data points about each publication’s journalistic mission, revenue performance, budgeting, engagement and distribution practices. The responses reflect performance during each publication’s fiscal year ending in 2017. Following the field period, data were cleaned for inconsistencies, missing entries and reporting errors.

The survey sample reflects a 59 percent response rate and is representative of all INN members. It gives a robust picture of the general state of nonprofit news publishers. Because the total current population of U.S. based nonprofit news publishers can be estimated but is not fully documented, these data should not be taken to scientifically represent all U.S. nonprofit news outlets, not all of which belong to INN. A further note about the nature of the population being studied: While some public broadcasters belong to INN, the typical member is digital-born rather than a public radio or television outlet. As such, these findings should not be taken to reflect trends in the broader world of all public media.

The survey is the first phase of the INN Index initiative, which will track progress and trends in the field with periodic surveys and will enable INN members to compare their performance to that of similar publications.

About INN

The Institute for Nonprofit News is a network of more than 180 nonprofit, nonpartisan news media, together strengthening the sources of trusted information for thousands of diverse communities. INN was founded in 2009 to foster a new collective of newsrooms serving the public interest. Today it functions as an innovation network, helping members develop new ways to support journalism and engage communities, providing business, technology and leadership support and a framework for collaboration. INN’s work helps newsrooms bring investigative and civic news to more people, hold the powerful accountable and strengthen democracy.

Links to media coverage about the study

Can Nonprofit News Help Save the Media Industry? - Editor & Publisher - Nov. 5, 2018

Nonprofit, not non-business - The Kicker - Oct. 5, 2018

Nonprofit News Sector Growing, Diversifying Revenue, Survey Finds - Philanthropy News Digest - Oct. 5, 2018

Center for Cooperative Media research director discusses INN Index report - Center for Cooperative Media - Oct. 4, 2018

Tracking the Nonprofit News Site: Economic Benchmarking Accelerates the Field - Nonprofit Quarterly - Oct. 4, 2018

Center for Community and Ethnic Media - The State of Nonprofit News: Benchmarking the Future - Oct. 3, 2018

Center for Cooperative Media on Medium - New INN Index tells story of a robust nonprofit news sector, with room to grow - Oct. 3, 2018

Current - INN releases report on nonprofit media sector - Oct. 2, 2018

Nieman Labs - This is the state of nonprofit news in 2018 - Oct. 2, 2018
Republished on International Journalists' Network

Poynter - A new look at local nonprofit news sites finds revenues of more than $325 million, 2,200 journalists - Oct. 2, 2018