Steve Katz, a fundraiser for Mother Jones, does a nice job of sorting out the various narratives now being woven about the role of nonprofits in preserving journalism.
His post, in sum, says there are three conversations about journalism and nonprofits that need to come together. Steve is a talented writer who knows a lot about this topic - check out more on his blog - but here's the boiled-down, eight-grade-reading-level version.
The groups still talking mostly among themselves are:
- Newspaper people trying to survive
- People who think we need public policy to support journalism
- Problem-solvers steeped in strategic philanthropy
(Did I get this approximately right, Steve?)
Again, the upshot is that the three groups need to start talking to each other, as Steve says, "because when we do I suspect very good things will happen."
While we're on the topic of getting people to talk to each other, Steve's post reminds me of a conversation I had last month with Dick Tofel of ProPublica. We were talking about how nonprofits might sustain themselves over the long haul, and I asked where he looked for ideas. One place he mentioned was the The Pew Charitable Trusts' Cultural Data Project.
The project, which is being built out on a state-by-state basis, uses a common "Data Profile" used by nonprofits seeking support from foundations. Though it's long, it's not rocket science. It's an attempt to get nonprofits to address common metrics, making it easier for donors to see which ones best fit their profile.