The British newspaper, which has grown its American presence in recent years, is relying on a series of grants garnered by a nonprofit offshoot to support investigative reporting on under-the-radar issues.
The trend toward supporting journalism through nonprofit means just gained its most prominent supporter yet.
The Guardian, one of the best-known British newspaper exports, announced this week that it would launch an American nonprofit to support its storytelling goals in the United States. The nonprofit, called theguardian.org, has already secured more than $1 million in grants from a number of charitable foundations.
In the coming months, the group will use the funding to do investigative reporting on climate change, backed by the Skoll Foundation; ongoing coverage of modern-day slavery, backed by Humanity United; and early childhood development, backed by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
In comments to The New York Times, Rachel White, the president of theguardian.org, noted that the goal of the endeavor was to put journalistic weight behind issues that were getting short shrift in the modern media environment but were important to the foundations.
“There’s an awakening to this concern that some of the issues that they hold dear are not getting coverage or there’s not enough information in the public sphere,” she told the Times.
Of the high-profile traditional newspapers out there, The Guardian has perhaps taken the most influence from the nonprofit space in recent years, launching a robust membership program last year to help rethink its financial situation. Additionally, the current nonprofit initiative is not the first time the newspaper has gone down this road. In the past, according to a press release, the newspaper has funded journalism through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation, among others. While the grants make up just a small part of the newspaper’s overall funding, such partnerships have generated $6 million in funding in the past year alone.
The company has changed its strategy recently in part because it was required to cut costs significantly last year to rein in major losses.
The initiative comes at a time when nonprofit takes on journalism are in vogue. Earlier this year, Voice of San Diego spun off its News Revenue Hub, a program designed to help news outlets build membership-driven revenue programs, as a separate nonprofit. And in April, Jimmy Wales, the creator of Wikipedia, launched a successful crowdfunding campaign to put together journalism project WikiTribune.