The New York Times is creating a new division to focus on finding nonprofit partners to help fund its journalism, the newspaper announced Friday.
The New York Times' executive editor Dean Baquet and managing editor Joseph Kahn wrote in a note: “Over the past year, a host of philanthropies and universities have come forward asking to help support our journalism.”
The newspaper's deputy executive editor, Janet Elder, will lead the division.
Elder will be tasked with finding “different types of nonprofit funding and the kinds of newsroom activities that might be supported, as well as addressing legal questions and potential ethical considerations in moving in this direction," Baquet and Kahn wrote.
They gave some examples of what this would entail, such as its “Fractured Lands” investigative series examining post-Arab Spring Middle East, which was funded, in part, by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
The executives also mentioned The New York Times Student Journalism Institute, which has helped support minority journalists. The idea is with more monetary support, the program could help expand its development of talent. They also suggest funding could help the NYT with the “growing crisis in local news coverage,” by partnering with institutions around the country.
Though the NYT's total subscriptions have grown to over 3 million (two-thirds of which are digital-only), it has been affected by the downturn in print advertising hitting newspapers. Digital advertising has yet to offset those losses as it competes with the duopoly that is Google and Facebook.
Also this week, The Guardian announced it would set up a similar, U.S.-based philanthropic arm to raise money from individuals and organizations. The venture would make it easier for more organizations and private individuals to donate and support human rights and climate-change coverage, for example.
The Guardian's unit, which has been setting up partnerships since December, has secured more than $1 million in funding.
A big question: If big donors pour money into the newspaper to cover specific topics, will that pull funding from nonprofit journalism ventures like ProPublica, The Center for Investigative Reporting and the Center for Public Integrity?