Nonprofit journalism is the practice of journalism by nonprofit outlets instead of a for-profit business. Nonprofit news outlets often prioritize private donations and or foundation grants to help fulfill their mission.
Nonprofit journalism though not new, has grown significantly in the 21st century.
Dated terms for this topic include not-for-profit journalism, non-profit journalism, think tank journalism or philanthrojournalism.
It has roots in the beginning of the newspaper age. In 1846, five New York newspapers united to share incoming reports from the Mexican–American War. That experiment in journalism became the Associated Press, a non-profit cooperative.[non-primary source needed]
New Internationalist magazine – published since 1973 in the UK and since 1979 as a separate company in Australia – represents one of the world's longest-lasting independent nonprofit publications.[non-primary source needed] In the United States, two local nonprofit journalism organizations, The Chicago Reporter[non-primary source needed] and City Limits Magazine,[non-primary source needed] were established in 1974 and 1976, respectively to cover social and economic urban policy issues. The Center for Investigative Reporting[non-primary source needed] (founded in 1977) is the nation's oldest non-profit investigative news organization. The second oldest is the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), founded in 1989 by Charles Lewis, a former producer for ABC News and CBS News. CPI's international arm, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), was founded in 1997 and has a global network of 280 investigative reporters in over 100 countries.
In 2013, a Pew Research Center study found that there were 172 nonprofit news outlets based in the United States founded between 1987 and April 2012. The study included in its count only those outlets that were active; primarily published online; and produced original reporting (i.e., non news aggregation or only opinion content). The study found organizations in all but 9 U.S. states; most work in specialized journalism niches. Fully 21% of those outlets focus on producing investigative reporting, while another 17% concentrate specifically on government. Other areas of focus include public and foreign affairs (13%), the environment (4%), health (3%) and arts and culture (3%). And the geographic orientation tends to be either state (38%) or metro level (29%). The study found that about two-thirds of the 172 nonprofit news outlets studied are sponsored or published by another organization; just one third are independent. Sponsors were most often a nonprofit think tank, another news organization, or a university. Most nonprofit news outlets were small, with 78% reporting five or fewer full-time paid staffers.