Not Your Mother’s NPQ—Cutting-Edge, 21st-Century Journalism by and for the Social Sector
- NPQ believes that the social sector will grow and change increasingly quickly and figure increasingly prominently in the shaping of the world’s future over the next two decades, yet there is no other significant journalistic presence capable of tracking developments in and around this sector in as comprehensive or immediate a way as in business or government;
- In reflection of changes in the social sector, NPQ has broadened its purview to provide current and responsible critical journalism—not only about nonprofits and philanthropy, but also on the dynamics of individual activism online and off, and the involvement of corporations, hybrids, and government in the development of a just and sustainable world;
- In light of the withdrawal of sector-specific journalists by mainstream media, NPQ will take a greater role in investigative journalism about the sector, building its own capacity to collaborate with other investigative and media entities on these projects;
- NPQ’s online journalism is rapid, accurate, and contextualized to allow people to take action in time to make a difference. NPQ does not just summarize news—it makes meaning of it to facilitate its practical use;
- NPQ has assumed a dynamic daily online presence and doubled its visitors over the past year, and it will grow much faster in the future given the right capital for growth;
- NPQ focuses on a variety of factors that affect the success of social endeavors; public policy and public opinion; revenue sources and models; evolving program models and evaluative methods; evolving governance and engagement models; general organizational management; leadership styles, communications strategies, and network and movement development; and the legal and regulatory environments—among other things;
- NPQ is using a collaborative journalism model that involves practitioners in the civil sector as lay journalists—collaborative journalism involves a number of actors working on a single story over time. Through the Nonprofit Newswire, NPQ’s collaborative journalism model tracks the many trends affecting the civil sector as society as a whole progresses through a profound economic/social era change;
- NPQ provides expert editing and curating to the lay journalists so that its reputation for credibility and rigor and practical usefulness are maintained;
- Each lay journalist acts not only as a source of content but also as an amplifier and disseminator;
- Financially, the collaborative journalism model allows NPQ to retain a relatively low cost structure with a high output;
- An online system that engages people broadly in its work is more effective at raising renewable revenue from its community. NPQ’s revenue model is based on this precept; and
- NPQ requires $2 million in capital to build to scale with the sector over the next three years and achieve a sustainable collaborative journalism and revenue model.
More about Collaborative Journalism
Our journalistic method suits the civic engagement mission of the sector. Collaborative journalism engages multiple contributors to identify and work on stories as they develop over time. The method is well suited to making practical sense of a complex and evolving environment, and both individuals and institutions may act as contributing partners on a single story.
NPQ’s model of collaborative journalism makes use of a virtual newsroom of lay journalists, drawn from the ranks of practitioners from many fields and regions of the country, as well as a network of informants and regular feature contributors. These contributors also act as distribution hubs and ambassadors for NPQ.
One of the areas in which the collaborative journalism model shows up most clearly is in the Nonprofit Newswire. NPQ publishes seven newswires a day, and these are sent out to a growing list of subscribers. Each newswire addresses a topic that is in the mainstream news (although often buried) and promises to be of import to those working in the sector. Trends are traced through the newswires as one story follows and appears to be connected to another.
Newswire writers, many of whom are lay contributors, are encouraged to contextualize the news item in public policy and other environmental factors, and reference back to previous newswires on related topics to help us to continually build an analysis of the importance and shape of the trend. The newswire writers function in a virtual newsroom, commenting on each other’s work.
Some of the topics we have followed over the past few years are: the shape and dynamics of online stakeholder rebellions against nonprofits and for-profits; legal issues involved in the use of social media; the effects of social media on social movements and fundraising; the shifting of fields (like hospice and journalism) between nonprofit and for-profit venues, and the changes that ensue as a result; the ways in which growing expectations of transparency are expressing themselves; the effects of the flow of private philanthropic dollars into public systems like education and health; voting and election laws; public engagement budgeting projects; international trends that threaten or support dissent, and the role of NGO’s; the implementation of new fees and taxes on nonprofits at the state and local levels; contracting issues with government at all levels; and much more. Every now and then we may sum up one of these trends in a feature, but many practitioners simply follow the newswire daily to keep up. News is drawn from all fields and geographies.