September 13, 2010

INN CEO speaks about new business models

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LOS ANGELES –  The inaugural CEO of the newly-formed Investigative News Network, Kevin Davis, spoke this month at a gathering at the University of Southern California about “pioneering new economic models to help to monetize the shared, combined content of the member organizations, in order to achieve a more sustainable journalism.”

Davis was invited to the USC Annenberg’s School for Communication and Journalism by Director Geneva Overholser, who called watchdog journalism “fundamental to democracy.”

Davis told the USC group that his job is to propagate deep-dive investigative reporting to the widest audience and achieve the highest impact.  Davis is heading up INN, an ambitious new collaboration of 42 non-profit news organizations, including NPR. the Center for Public Integrity, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and a wide range of state and regional centers.

Davis said he believes “non-profits have potential for a competitive advantage in journalism” in this era of entrepreneurial, innovative models for sustainability.  Davis attributed this non-profit movement to  “a reaction to the shrinking of investigative units” in mainstream media organizations.

At a time when project journalism is in danger, INN’s mission is to aid and abet journalists in uncovering stories that hold governments, corporations and institutions accountable to the public.  The goal is to help its non-profit members get content out into the world and find ways to monetize the model.

Davis said there are great opportunities and challenges for INN.

“How do we reach an audience with a lack of appreciation for what journalists do?” he said. “By producing news they care about, and finding money from people who care.”

INN was founded last year after nonprofit journalists attended a small conference in New York.  The non-partisan, non-profit newsrooms are located throughout the United States and will eventually become international.

INN is supported by grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, San Diego philanthropist Buzz Woolley, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the McCormick Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the William Penn Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Surdna Foundation.

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