Elsewhere online
July 19, 2011

Ideology Drives Many Nonprofit News Sites, Study Finds

More than half of the new wave of nonprofit journalism operations have an ideological bent, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center, the Associated Press and Nieman Journalism Lab write.

The center's Project for Excellence in Journalism examined 46 nonprofit news Web sites and found that 56 percent produced ideologically tinged content. Sites with multiple donors, such as the well-known ProPublica and Texas Tribune, were described as the most balanced, while operations primarily backed by a single source tended toward partisanship.

The nine members of the American Independent News Network skewed most to the left, while the 12 Watchdog.org sites supported largely by the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity are the most conservative, according to Pew. (Editor's note: The previous paragraph has been updated to reflect a correction; the Open Society Institute, supported by George Soros, does not currently support the American Independent News Network.)

Nieman Lab's Joshua Benton writes that, viewed in the larger journalistic context, “a little ideology isn't such a bad thing” among nonprofit sites. While partisan sites cannot replace shrinking traditional news outlets, he says, they can serve as supplements that help ensure “both sides of the aisle will be poked and prodded and that stories will surface that otherwise wouldn’t.”