The New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism is proud to announce a special grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s Geoffrey E. Clark and Martha Fuller Clark Fund to help the organization build a sustainable business path forward for local news.
The $25,000 grant will be used to bring together business leaders, philanthropists, journalists, entrepreneurs and like-minded people who care passionately about the future of news. The Center for Public Interest Journalism, which publishes InDepthNH.org, plans to use the grant to solve the most pressing problem facing almost all news outlets: How to make money reporting the news.
“InDepthNH.org is grateful to former Senator Martha Fuller Clark and Dr. Geoffrey E. Clark for trusting us to lead the way,” said Nancy West, founder and executive editor of the six-year-old nonprofit news website.
“This grant will help not only us, but all news outlets in the state, that are trying to solve the same problem in an ethical way without owing any partisan funders,” West said.
With 63 percent of all news jobs having been lost in the last 20 years in New Hampshire, West said all journalists know we must find a way forward to keep doing what we do or risk losing our precious democracy.
West said the old print model that relied on advertising and subscriptions is no longer viable in the digital age. As newspaper circulations have dropped, so has revenue, and West does not see that model as sustainable.
West’s goal is for InDepthNH.org to work with the best and the brightest of New Hampshire to build a business foundation that goes way beyond begging for charity dollars.
Other news outlets have cropped up in the state, and each has a revenue model that might include foundation grants, out-of-state money, advertising or membership to fund their operations. West has always envisioned InDepthNH.org as setting itself apart from any revenue model that would threaten the operation’s rigorous ethics.
“We must be able to report the news without fear or favor,” West said. This, she said, includes not accepting money that might cast doubt on the way she has been running InDepthNH.org as a journalism organization with a strong code of ethics and beholden to no one.
“We have been working for these past six years trying to find the right model and have studied the success of nonprofit local news sites such as the VTDigger and the Texas Tribune,” West said. “It is time to find a replicable financial model that works for New Hampshire. We must all help to make it work.”
This wouldn’t be happening without Martha Fuller Clark, a former state Senator, and her husband Dr. Geoffrey Clark, a gastroenterologist and entrepreneur, who are known as well for their generous volunteer and philanthropic endeavors, West said.
“We plan to bring together all people who care about the future of ethical, unbiased news to come up with a successful model to pay our way forward,” West said. We’ll start with the NH NEWS SUMMIT this fall. (More info later.)
As explained in the organization’s grant application, “The New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism was established as a New Hampshire-registered nonprofit corporation on May 7, 2015. Its purpose is to fulfill the responsibilities of the press as articulated in the New Hampshire Constitution, primarily to hold the government accountable to the people. Further, the corporation exists to fearlessly report unbiased, nonpartisan news that fully informs citizens about their democracy.
“InDepthNH.org is the vehicle by which our corporation engages in journalism to challenge government secrecy and to shine light on wrongdoing and corruption. Again and again, we come back to these basic tenets of our organization because every day these founding principles are attacked and maligned, challenged and misrepresented. As ethical journalists, we see it as our guiding mission that we remain dedicated to the truth alone. This has proven especially difficult in the current environment, when rapidly contracting revenue is forcing news organizations to make decisions beneficial to the bottom line, but in our estimation, not to the practice of ethical journalism.
“The NH NEWS SUMMIT is a means by which we remain true to our mission of journalism that is beholden to no one, that has no ties to activists or partisan politics, that upholds our belief in vigorous and unbiased in-depth news reporting that holds the powerful accountable, which will continue to be the bedrock of a thriving democracy. Our goal is to fully inform the public, foster civil discourse and encourage people to participate as full members in their democracy. By accepting money from sources with missions and mandates is not how we have chosen to conduct business.
“This all seems esoteric until you begin to live in our shoes. We have observed how news media, legacy news as well as digital startups, both profit-making and nonprofit, have scooped up cash distributed by large corporations and foundations, only to be beholden to some strategy or philosophy, or pigeon-holed into some series of news coverage that has little impact on the issue at hand.”
West said the NH NEWS SUMMIT is a new way to fund the future of news, and she said, “We believe this grant request will give us the seed money to make this a reality.”
For more information, sign up for InDepthNH.org’s free newsletter and stay tuned to this site and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.