The reality is The New York Times pulled a deeply experienced journalist off the philanthropy and nonprofit beat. This is foremost in my mind. I wrote about it last week, and the slightly more widely read Chronicle of Philanthropy covered it the week before.
Then why am I bothered seeing more Times pieces in my “philanthropy” alerts than usual? Because I can’t help but worry it’s an early barrage to appease the nonprofit community so we won’t object to losing our voice at the national desk.
I still say having a reporter devoted exclusively to a beat is better than having multiple reporters across desks thinking about that beat from time to time. She develops sources and builds relationships and asks people what they’re seeing. She thinks about news from a singular perspective to discern trends and make analysis. She devotes time to research in addition to covering news items.
The beat won’t get the attention it deserves over the medium- to long term. Inattention won’t start today, but soon, in weeks or months, and then it’s interminable. (The Times is counting on us having a collective short memory.) That means the charity beat suffers. That means the charity community suffers because information and coverage are power and voice.
I don’t like to see the charity community suffer. Do you think it will? Or am I alone here?
I am appalled that The New York Times dropped philanthropy and nonprofits as a full time beat, saying it will be handled “across news desks.”
There is so much that’s interesting in the charity community as
compliance and oversight tighten
new types of organizations blur the line between corporate and charitable
tax reform looms
the estate tax’s future remains uncertain
the charitable deduction is in the cross hairs
the economy creeps out of recession
illegal lobbying and political activity charges emerge in an election year
the Republican nominee announces a charity platform
nonprofit hospitals await the final word on healthcare reform
state and local governments continue to look for new revenue
20- and 30-somethings become more involved in social change
baby boomers get deeper into retirement
measuring “impact” grows in stature
new social networks like Pinterest emerge
religious organizations slowly lose fundraising market share
climate change worsens and environmental and healthcare groups react
Syria erupts and social justice and humanitarian groups react
Arab nations reform and women’s groups react
Vladimir Putin regains the Russian presidency
European countries’ austerity measures leave needs unmet
Added on March 13, 2012 – since this was published yesterday:
Philanthropy is a top growth industry
Oklahoma State University cannot recoup millions lost in insurance fundraising promoted by T. Boone Pickens
Precious few of these are stories that will grab the news desks’ attention. They emerge as trends over time and will get displaced each day by the urgencies that fly across news desks.
Philanthropy and charity, our third sector that represents about 10% of the U.S. gross domestic product, demands someone who is each day thinking about that beat, sifting the news for patterns and looking at the day’s happenings through the lens of the charity community.
You’re not going to get that without a devoted, full time reporter on the beat.
The Times should restore philanthropy to an exclusive national news beat and put Stephanie Strom (or someone with equivalent experience and contacts) back on it.
This two minute clip sort of captures my sentiment.