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Posted:
16 November 2017

Independence, ability to focus, and impact: How nonprofit media orgs can thrive in a difficult media economy

Independence, ability to focus, and impact: How nonprofit media orgs can thrive in a difficult media economy
We talked to David Cabo, founder of Spain’s Civio, Juan Gómez, sub-editor of the Colombian Rutas del Conflicto, and Rachel Olroyd, editor of the UK’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Drops in print ad revenue and slow digital advertising have meant that leading news organisations are having to come up with new money-making strategies to avoid further staff cuts.

Philanthropy seems to be the antidote for some. Spanish-language media giant Univision Communications launched its foundation to fund independent journalism and digital projects this week. The Guardian and The New York Times have set up nonprofit arms to secure funding for their journalism: the charitable status presumably serving as an incentive for organisations and private individuals to donate.

This shakeup in the business model has also resulted in a growing number of independent nonprofit news outlets. We talked to three of them, represented by David Cabo, founder of Spain’s Civio, Juan Gómez, sub-editor of the Colombian Rutas del Conflicto (winner of a Data Journalism Award), and Rachel Olroyd, editor of the UK’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism to find out whether nonprofits represent a viable news alternative, how their work differs from that of a commercial newsroom, and their relationship with donors and collaborators.

    ‘I sometimes say I went to the non-profit news sector from the unprofitable one’, Jack Cushman, InsideClimate News.

The not for profit sector is not a silver bullet but it is a force for good
Freedom from power

Gómez draws our attention to the fact that Colombia is an extremely divided and rural country, and that wealth is in the hands of the very few. He says only 32% of the population have access to the Internet. (A study published by the Colombian government cites the same number)

‘Almost all media here in Colombia are really attached with economic groups’ says Gómez, as they are owned by politicians and corporations, making in-depth investigations difficult.

‘We’re in a transcendental moment in our history’, says Gómez, referring to the peace process in Colombia, underlining the need for good, independent journalism, which Rutas del Conflicto is aiming to provide.

In collaboration with Armando info, Rutas del Conflicto spent eights months in the Llanos Basin in Colombia to produce two important multimedia reports: One about farmers who had owned land in the region for nearly half a century before being unsettled by violence from Paramilitary and Guerrilla groups and seeing their land used for oil extraction by Pacific Rubiales (now called Pacific Exploration & Production), and the other about the fall of the petrol giant in 2016.