Emergency campaign for nonprofit news: Goal to sustain essential reporting during COVID-19 crisis

In recognition of the essential role of nonprofit news organizations in covering the COVID-19 crisis, a rapid-response effort to support journalism will kick off on May 5 in conjunction with #GivingTuesdayNow — a global day of unity from GivingTuesday. More than 200 nonprofit newsrooms have been invited to create giving pages on NewsforGood.org, a new website created by the Institute for Nonprofit News to help donors find trusted local and investigative newsrooms to support. News Revenue Hub, the American Journalism Project, and NewsMatch are also supporting the campaign.

“Nonprofit journalists are on the frontlines of this public health crisis,” said Sue Cross, executive director of the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), which supports more than 250 independent news organizations across the United States. “We are seeing reporters in our network going above and beyond, taking risks, and breaking stories before traditional media outlets learn of them.”

Nonprofit newsrooms are providing an essential service during this pandemic, as daily and weekly newspapers in communities across the country are furloughing reporters or shutting down entirely

“This crisis drives home the need for local, accurate information — and a nonprofit business model to support that journalism that relies on public support, not advertising,” said Jason Alcorn, managing director, strategy and operations at the American Journalism Project

In recent weeks, larger members of the INN network like ProPublica and CalMatters have published groundbreaking stories that have been picked up by mainstream media outlets, while smaller organizations have used their innovative thinking and topical expertise to tell the stories their constituents needed to hear, for example:

  • When Detroit began suffering one of America’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks, the staff of Outlier Media expanded its text-based coverage of housing and public utilities for low-income residents to include healthcare, safety, and childcare. Outlier now sends about 10,000 texts per day and engages in some 200 daily conversations with users who ask pressing questions such as where to pick up free school lunches or how to access the state unemployment portal by mobile device.
  • Just after President Trump began touting the purported benefits of hydroxychloroquine in treating Covid-19, a reporter at North Carolina Health News got a tip that a patient at an in-state hospital was being treated with an unnamed anti-malarial drug. The founder, a nurse with a master’s in public health, worked with the reporter to ensure that the story would present chloroquines as unproven in killing the coronavirus. As time passed, clinical results showed that chloroquines were not only ineffective in these cases, they may be dangerous or even fatal to those who self-administer them.
  • Because El Paso Matters does not focus on breaking news, the staff was able to follow through on a hunch: that initial cases of COVID-19 in El Paso could be traced to individuals returning from a Conference USA college basketball tournament across the state, in Dallas. Acting on the knowledge that three employees of the University of Texas at El Paso had tested positive for coronavirus, a reporter deduced that the three had been at the tournament. While public and private officials initially refused to answer questions, he eventually confirmed his theory and published a story that was reposted by local media and by news outlets in other cities that had residents at the Conference USA event.

In addition to launching NewsforGood.org, campaign partners are building upon the capacity-building infrastructure behind the annual NewsMatch giving cycle by quickly deploying training and fundraising resources to participating newsrooms.  

“Communities around the country are relying on fact-based journalism and quality reporting to get us through this crisis,” said Christina Shih, vice president of business development at News Revenue Hub. “If you value these dedicated reporters, I hope you will join thousands of other individuals who have contributed to nonprofit newsrooms by making a donation during this critical time.”  

The #GivingTuesdayNow campaign for nonprofit news is an initiative of NewsMatch in partnership with Institute for Nonprofit News, News Revenue Hub, American Journalism Project, GivingTuesday, and with Knight Foundation and Democracy Fund. Since 2016, NewsMatch has helped to raise more than $23 million for local and investigative journalism through its annual year-end campaigns.

Follow us on Twitter @inn and join the conversation with #NewsforGood and #GivingNewsDay 


The Institute for Nonprofit News strengthens and supports more than 250 independent news organizations in a new kind of media network: nonprofit, nonpartisan and dedicated to public service. From local news to in-depth reporting on pressing global issues, INN’s members tell stories that otherwise would go untold -- connecting communities, holding the powerful accountable and strengthening democracy. Our vision is a world in which all people in every community have access to trustworthy news. INN programs help these news organizations develop revenue and business models to support strong reporting, collaborate on editorial and business innovation, share services and advance the diverse leaders who are forging a new future for news. See: inn.org.

News Revenue Hub helps news organizations build the trust and financial support of their audiences by providing customized technology tools and proven strategies to create and sustain successful digital membership programs. See: fundjournalism.org.

The American Journalism Project is a venture philanthropy organization dedicated to local news. Our work is grounded in an understanding of the severity, urgency and scope of the crisis as communities across the U.S. lose their newspapers and call for a new approach to local news. By providing transformative investments and close support to nonprofit, nonpartisan news organizations, we are building a new public service media that is governed by, sustained by and looks like the public it serves. See: ajp.org.

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. See: knightfoundation.org.

Democracy Fund, created by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar, is a foundation helping to ensure that our political system can withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Democracy Fund has invested more than $150 million in support of a healthy, resilient, and diverse democracy with a particular focus on modern elections, effective governance, and a vibrant public square. See: democracyfund.org.