September 30, 2021

The number of nonprofit news organizations dedicated to serving local audiences or communities of color is growing rapidly, according to a report by the Institute for Nonprofit News released Wednesday.

The report, titled “Index in Focus,” includes data from a survey sent in January 2021 to 284 newsrooms in the INN network. It covers five, not mutually exclusive categories: local news, state and regional news, national and global news, publications primarily serving communities of color, and outlets specializing in a single topic.

The local sector has seen an average of nearly one launch per month for the past three years, the report found. From 2018 to 2020, 33 new outlets launched, including 11 in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2016, the number of local outlets has nearly doubled.

These outlets are more likely to say covering communities of color is a primary mission, and employees of color make up 37% of local news organizations’ staff, compared to 32% in the rest of the field.

Similarly, news outlets that focus on communities of color have been launching at a steady pace, and the number of these organizations has nearly doubled since 2017. Many of them tend to be local outlets that focus on urban areas. Over half, or 55%, of staff are people of color, and nearly half publish content in a different language.

In its survey, the INN also asked questions pertaining to an organization’s revenue and reach in 2020. Though national and global outlets make up just under a third of the nonprofit field, they bring in 60% of the field’s total revenue. The median monthly unique visitors for these outlets in 2020 was 81,000, higher than any other category.

Local outlets, in contrast, generate only 13% of nonprofit news revenue despite making up 36% of the field.

The INN found that state and regional organizations have become particularly adept at developing revenue streams comprising multiple funding sources. These outlets also help fill information gaps and are the most likely to produce investigative or explanatory journalism.

The sector representing news organizations that focus on a single topic has also seen major growth, quadrupling in number since 2008. The INN found that of the 16 outlets that reported revenue data in 2017 and in 2020, 12 experienced revenue increases and none reported a decline.

The Wednesday report acts as a supplement to the annual INN Index survey. You can read that report here.

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Angela Fu is a reporter for Poynter. She can be reached at or on Twitter @angelanfu.
Angela Fu

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