Another Report, Another Call For Beefed-Up Nonprofit Journalism Practices

6a00e54f8c25c9883401bb08d43bc7970d-450wi

More and more attention is being directed towards the viability of the nonprofit journalism model on which so many education outlets rely. Last week, for example, a new report from theAmerican Press Institute was released, focusing on the ethical terrain of nonprofit journalism.

According to the report, there’s lots of work to be done to ensure that nonprofit journalism doesn’t end up discredited: 

“Many funders, for instance, finance media in areas where they also do public policy work. A growing amount of funding is for coverage of specific problems and even specific investigations, not just general coverage areas or by providing more general grants for operations. There is a fair amount of variation in the nature of editorial communication. And there are relatively few written guidelines establishing clear rules of editorial independence. A good deal of the protection of journalistic independence in the realm of nonprofit media is left to good intentions.”

Yikes.

The report cites the handful of known incidents in which funders and news outlets have come into conflict. One example closely related to education comes from New Orlean’s The Lens: “In New Orleans, a nonprofit media organization’s reporting about a university president may have cost the organization’s its office space at the school.”

API says it surveyed 94 nonprofit media organizations, 63 funders, and 146 commercial organizations for the research. It’s not clear whether the Hechinger Report, Chalkbeat, or Education Week participated — all were promised anonymity. Read more about it via #APInonprofitethics.

Just in time, Chalkbeat unveiled its new Code of Ethics, which highlights the benefits of diversified streams of support, pledges to guard against bias by “examining ways in which personal experiences and values may shape our reporting,” to “seek sources who lack access to broad public platforms, in addition to documenting the claims of those with influence and power,” and to “resist pressure from inside or outside Chalkbeat to influence coverage because of an advocacy agenda or financial need.”

Related posts: Chalkbeat To Roll Out New Code Of EthicsA Code Of Ethics For Nonprofit Education Journalism?;New Report Critiques Beat-Specific Foundation Funding For Sustainability, Influence IssuesWhat The LA Times Should – And Shouldn’t – Do With Its Education CoverageDiverse Funding & Self-Assessment Might Improve Education Coverage

Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.