Our summer 2012 issue looks at the external influences on nonprofit management—so let’s talk about those governing the Nonprofit Quarterly. NPQ went out to its community this past month with an appeal that was urgent on many levels. We are one of many publications laboring in the often cash-poor laboratory toward a new future of journalism. All of us are experimenting to find the right fit between our publications and those we serve; and for us this fit has changed—both because the sector has changed and the gap we fill has grown.
We have seen an erosion of reporting power vis-à-vis the sector for a while now, and this erosion has been particularly depressing of late. Stephanie Strom was taken off the New York Times nonprofit and philanthropy beat months ago, and now Todd Cohen is gone from the Philanthropy Journal, with serious cost cutting going on there.
But this is occurring at a time when the civil sector is expanding and changing in just about every way imaginable. People working on critical social issues need a place where they can go to for “business intelligence” about their working environment—the experiments being tried, the policies proposed, the investments made.
NPQ is experimenting with a form of journalism that is uniquely suited to the civil sector. We love the quote from Jay Rosen, spoken during a May 1, 2012 roundtable discussion on the future of journalism: “I emphasize the good that comes when old institutions fall apart. What happens is that frozen conceptions of journalism and what it can be suddenly become unlocked and we can rethink them. That’s how American institutions evolve.”1 That this can happen in the civil sector through NPQ is hugely exciting.
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In print, NPQ looks much the same—if still unique—in that it delivers world-class articles about nonprofit management and governance and fundraising and stakeholder engagement. But online, NPQ is bringing the making and writing of history together by engaging practitioners in documenting the growing diversity of activities and actors in civil society. Collaborative journalism engages multiple contributors to identify and work on stories as they develop over time, with both individuals and institutions sometimes acting as contributing partners on a single story. The method is well suited to making practical sense of a complex and evolving environment.
So think of us laboring in our laboratory/newsroom at NPQ, and consider making an investment in our future with some cash support today—and regularly, from now on. We will all be the better for it!
- Capital New York; “It’s the year 1472 in journalism, a fact some people like and some don’t,” blog entry by Jed Lipinski, May 3, 2012, www.capitalnewyork.com/article/media/2012/05/5827045/its-year-1472-journalism-fact-some-people-and-some-don’t.