Not-for-profit not for long

Posted: February 18, 2011 by Alyssa Mosher in #5 Not for Profit


When I explore the idea of not-for-profit news organizations I wonder how great they really are. Looking at something like NPR, I see a website that has developed and I see a wide range of stories under a multi-medium of reporting. The layout of the page is simple, but interesting. The advertisements aren’t too flashy and seem to somehow go with the colour scheme of the design. It all looks great and reads great, but is it always going to be like this?

Not-for-profit or non-profit, however you want to put it, means there’s not extra “spending money” received. Organizations like NPR depend on the public’s donations to keep it alive. I find this too unsustainable, too dependent on what I always thought was a very fickle audience.

And that’s where the problem begins.

The whole idea of a not-for-profit news organization scares me because I don’t think it’s going to last. I don’t believe that the public will always give enough money for the company to stay afloat. And maybe I’m ignorant, maybe I don’t totally understand where the money comes from. It probably comes from more than the average Joe on the block. It still makes me weary though.

The other problem – or what I see as a problem – is that not-for-profit news organizations – or at least the ones I looked at like the Voice of San Diego – seem too close or too involved with the public. First of all, when you name your online paper “the voice of San Diego,” I think you’re already crossing a line. I understand how some people believe that journalism has to be the voice of the people, but I think it’s so much more than that. It’s also about awareness, showing many people what they don’t – but should – know. But when your online news organization is called the voice of San Diego and you get your money from “the people,” your journalistic choices become slimmer.

I might be way off here, looking at not-for-profit organizations in the wrong way. But maybe my point is that journalism shouldn’t work this way. At some point isn’t the public going to stop funding? Aren’t regular mediums (newspaper, television, etc) dying out anyway?

But maybe NPR proves me wrong…



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