Where Does News Come From?
There are now more news sites than ever - and more going online every week. News about education, the environment, politics - you name it and there are dozens of news sites dedicated to the topic of your choice. This is particulary true for the nonprofit sites - organizations funded mostly by foundations ostensibly committed to giving voice to those left out by commercial and corporate news sites.
So have we reached a point where everyone has a voice? Everyone has a chance to tell their story? Not according to Rebecca Hazard Owen in NiemanLab's latest posting.
Or, to directly answer the question posed by Owen's article: Yes, nonprofit news sites are just creating more content for elites who already read a lot of news.
To be fair, the challenge for these nonprofit news sites is fundamental. While foundations dedicated to this area seem geniunely interested in supporting news sites that try to serve the so-called "under-served," they also are requiring these sites to work toward sustainability. That means, these news sites must find ways to eventually pay for themselves. Unfortunately, those are two entirely opposing objectives.
“It’s a Catch-22,” according to Rodney Benson, NYU’s department chair and professor of media, culture, and communication, who tells Owen, ”the foundations are asking nonprofit media to be [financially] sustainable and to have impact. Those two things don’t go together easily.”
Owen's piece is a must-read for those of us working to empower communities to tell their own story. We can't afford to wait for nonprofit news sites, or anyone else, to figure out how to include these communities in the information revolution.
The solution? Train and educate a new generation of storytellers from all communities who can creatively and authentically share their stories. It is the most effective way to challenge the myths, stereotypes and fake news that distorts our views and perceptions of each other.