Nonprofit news innovation is happening in Cleveland


According to the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), nonprofit newsrooms have been launching at a pace of more than one a month in the U.S. for almost 12 years. In 2019, INN had a total estimated staff of more than 3,500, including about 2,000 journalists, and generated annual revenue of roughly $500 million. Foundations and other support programs have provided significant training, tools and other capacity-building resources.  

INN also reports that nonprofit newsrooms have a success rate of 94%. Yes, that’s right. In part, that’s because nonprofit newsrooms continue to diversity their revenue streams, particularly by tapping into membership and individual giving. And at the end of the day, nonprofits are locally-controlled and mission-oriented, so they have a pretty strong rudder to guide them through choppy waters.

Nonprofit news innovation is also happening in Cleveland. Here are five examples besides The Land:

1. Cleveland Documenters recruits, trains and pays Greater Clevelanders to document official committee meetings of the Cuyahoga County and City of Cleveland governments and contribute to a communal pool of public knowledge. Created in partnership with City Bureau, a non profit journalism lab based in Chicago, and with funding from the Cleveland Foundation and the Visible Voice Charitable Fund, the program is now recruiting documenters and is hosting its first training on documenting public meetings Oct. 29.

2. The Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative (NEO SOJO) is a group of 20-plus Greater Cleveland news outlets working together to cover the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on marginalized communities.

3. Although public radio has been around awhile and clearly isn’t new, the work that’s coming out of Ideastream clearly is. One example is the longterm coverage and community engagement work they’re doing with residents of Woodhill Estates, where the public housing complex is slated for redevelopment.

4. The Neighborhood and Community Media Association of Greater Cleveland (NCMA CLE) is a group of hyperlocal news outlets, at least some of which are nonprofit, such as Heights Observer which is published by FutureHeights.

5. Although outside of Cleveland, groups like The Devil Strip and Eye on Ohio are also making important contributions to the local media landscape.

If there are examples of nonprofit news innovation happening in our community that we’ve missed, send them to us here.

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