Non-profit journalism in Germany

Jour­nal­ism has the func­tion of ori­ent­ing and edu­cat­ing the pub­lic in a democ­ra­cy. But jour­nal­ism in Ger­many is fac­ing a cri­sis in the era of dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion. The Report Non-prof­it jour­nal­ism in Ger­many offers deci­sion-mak­ers and fun­ders an intro­duc­tion to the field. 

The pub­li­ca­tion of this report falls in the midst of the coro­na pan­dem­ic, which has cre­at­ed a para­dox for jour­nal­ism. Reli­able infor­ma­tion is need­ed now more than ever.

At the same time, media out­lets are los­ing key sources of income that they nor­mal­ly receive through adver­tis­ing and events. Many jour­nal­ists live in fear of los­ing their liveli­hood as entire media out­lets face bank­rupt­cy, par­tic­u­lar­ly with­in the local media land­scape. While this era demon­strates the urgent need for jour­nal­ism, it has also exposed the frag­ile nature of journalism’s eco­nom­ic foun­da­tion. We are wit­ness­ing a mar­ket failure.

The coro­na pan­dem­ic is exac­er­bat­ing an already pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tion. For years now, the world of jour­nal­ism has been strug­gling with a num­ber of crises. While dig­i­tal­iza­tion demands con­stant inno­va­tion from edi­to­r­i­al offices, dig­i­tal busi­ness mod­els them­selves have proved only mar­gin­al­ly viable. Jour­nal­ism is strug­gling to main­tain its capac­i­ty to stim­u­late and shape pub­lic debate in society.

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Report: Non-Profit-Journalism in Germany

The complete report in German

English Summary: Non-Profit-Journalismus in Germany

Report on quality criteria, logic models and funding tips in non-profit journalism

One thing is for sure: When jour­nal­ism is no longer able to make com­plex prob­lems trans­par­ent, democ­ra­cy begins to fal­ter. Social cohe­sion and civ­il soci­ety engage­ment suf­fer while mis­man­age­ment and cor­rup­tion increase.

Dri­ven by the need to counter these devel­op­ments, the Non-Prof­it Jour­nal­ism in Ger­many report focus­es on what’s new. It tells the sto­ry of an awak­en­ing, of how the cri­sis-weary world of jour­nal­ism has embraced a pio­neer­ing spir­it. Adding to the tra­di­tion­al pil­lars of pri­vate and pub­lic ser­vices, pio­neers in the field are build­ing a third pil­lar with­in the media land­scape: non-prof­it jour­nal­ism.

This mode of jour­nal­ism has a new oper­at­ing mod­el that is free from com­mer­cial inter­ests, and is inno­v­a­tive, solu­tion-focused and col­lab­o­ra­tive. Non-prof­it jour­nal­ism seeks to estab­lish a close rap­port with its users and strength­ens media diver­si­ty in the dig­i­tal age. In order to achieve this, it needs the sup­port of people.

The report address­es those who are need­ed to help estab­lish non-prof­it jour­nal­ism and increase its poten­tial – from coura­geous financiers to polit­i­cal advo­cates. The report offers these tar­get groups rec­om­men­da­tions for actions they can take.

Non-prof­it jour­nal­ism: Impor­tant impulses

The group of non-prof­it jour­nal­ism organ­i­sa­tions fea­tured in this report can con­tribute to this goal. There are at least three ways in which they strength­en the field of jour­nal­ism and soci­ety at large:

  1. Non-prof­it jour­nal­ism tends to strength­en the diver­si­ty of opin­ions and there­by democ­ra­cy as a whole.
  2. Non-prof­it jour­nal­ism is often high­ly inno­v­a­tive, both in terms of its new busi­ness and financ­ing mod­els and the new approach­es and prac­tices to journalism.
  3. For non-prof­it jour­nal­ism, cul­ti­vat­ing com­mu­ni­ty-ori­ent­ed jour­nal­ism with active par­tic­i­pa­tion of cit­i­zens is embed­ded in their cul­ture and approach.

The 20 non-prof­it actors pre­sent­ed in this report – 15 of which are in Ger­many and the remain­ing five in the Unit­ed States, Eng­land and Switzer­land – are inspir­ing exam­ples of the diver­si­ty, inno­v­a­tive pow­er and con­struc­tive approach that char­ac­ter­izes non-prof­it journalism.

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Non-prof­it jour­nal­ism: How fun­ders can help

  1. Help change the fund­ing land­scape for non-prof­it jour­nal­ism: In Ger­many, less than one per­cent of all foun­da­tions cur­rent­ly sup­port jour­nal­is­tic ser­vices. In order to estab­lish non-prof­it jour­nal­ism as the third pil­lar in the sec­tor (besides pri­vate pub­lish­ers and pub­lic broad­cast­ers), we need more fun­ders and advo­cates to be able to gen­er­ate more finan­cial resources. This might involve, for exam­ple, mak­ing ven­ture cap­i­tal avail­able for inno­va­tion and test­ing new financ­ing ideas, such as joint start-up funds for jour­nal­ism start-ups in which sev­er­al fun­ders can participate.
  2. Sup­port sus­tain­able struc­tures: As impor­tant as indi­vid­ual project fund­ing is, it is just as cru­cial to pro­vide sys­tem­at­ic and last­ing sup­port for the field and its actors. This includes, for exam­ple, estab­lish­ing insti­tu­tion­al sup­port for proven approach­es that ensure infra­struc­ture and per­son­nel – or invest­ing in larg­er plat­form solu­tions along the lines of a pub­licpri­vate partnership.
  3. Pro­vide sup­port where it’s need­ed: The more strong­ly your com­mit­ment tar­gets real exist­ing needs, the greater your impact. Struc­tur­al fund­ing and long-term com­mit­ments enable high­er impact and sus­tain­able development.
  4. Empha­size impact: Your engage­ment will have a social impact only if you can iden­ti­fy before­hand what will improve or be dif­fer­ent after­wards. It is there­fore impor­tant to plan and imple­ment your engage­ment with care, suf­fi­cient flex­i­bil­i­ty and sup­port for cap­tur­ing impact.

Order & Download

Report: Non-Profit-Journalism in Germany

The complete report in German

English Summary: Non-Profit-Journalismus in Germany

Report on quality criteria, logic models and funding tips in non-profit journalism

Non-prof­it jour­nal­ism: Trends

The report con­cludes by tak­ing a look at three major trends that will shape the field of jour­nal­ism in the com­ing years.

  • Inter­con­nect­ed­ness is steadi­ly grow­ing: This is tak­ing place on three lev­els: among jour­nal­ists, between jour­nal­ists and their com­mu­ni­ty, and between actors from the for-prof­it and non-prof­it sec­tors (through spe­cif­ic types of cooperation).
  • The spec­trum of approach­es con­tin­ues to expand and is diver­si­fy­ing: Jour­nal­ists are work­ing more close­ly togeth­er than ever before. As part of a com­mu­ni­ty, read­ers are not only help­ing finance and obtain infor­ma­tion, they are also con­tribut­ing to the inter­pre­ta­tion of infor­ma­tion and form­ing of opin­ions, there­by them­selves dri­ving top­ics and ser­vices. In addi­tion, we see an increase in coop­er­a­tion between actors from the for-prof­it, non-prof­it and pub­lic media.
  • The search for suit­able forms of financ­ing will pro­vide the sec­tor with a vari­ety of for­prof­it, non-prof­it and hybrid busi­ness mod­els. There is already a vari­ety of financ­ing mod­els among non-prof­it actors that com­bine estab­lished with new sources of income.

The report is free of charge and is avail­able under CC license. It was cre­at­ed in coop­er­a­tion between Lumi­nate, Schöpflin Stiftung, Rudolf Aug­stein Stiftung and PHINEO.

Do you have any questions?

Charlotte Buttkus

Organizational Development & Trainings
+49 30 520 065 308
charlotte.buttkus@phineo.org