In an article published on Friday, the Columbia Journalism Review cited VTDigger as a national model for local nonprofit investigative news.
David Westphal, a senior fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, describes how VTDigger was founded and how the organization has grown from a one-person operation to a full-fledged nonprofit news company with 19 employees, including 14 editors and reporters.
Today that nonprofit, VTDigger, has a staff of 19, an annual budget of $1.5 million, and aspirations of reaching the $2 million revenue mark by 2021. By one measure, that makes VTDigger the largest investigative reporting nonprofit in the country that is focusing on local or state news. Remarkably, it has happened in the nation’s second smallest state.
[Anne] Galloway’s gritty success story is a case study of what can be achieved by a philanthropy-driven news organization specializing in investigative reporting.
Westphal also writes about how this past year VTDigger has invested in tech upgrades, business operations and new community reporting beats in Southern Vermont and Washington, D.C.
These investments have been made possible by the VTDigger Growth Fund, which will be used to expand our newsroom and to continue to develop a sustainable business model for nonprofit journalism.
I’m proud that VTDigger has received a leading $1 million commitment for the Growth Fund over a five-year period from a great Vermont philanthropist, Lyman Orton, and his wife, Janice Izzi, who believe in our cause.
The Growth Fund is a separate project from readers’ and supporters’ contributions that fund our base operations. We are currently in the process of our year-end fund drive to cover those annual expenses.
I am grateful to the Vermonters who have fueled VTDigger with large and small contributions, all of which we greatly appreciate. We wouldn’t exist without the readers and underwriters who have supported our work.
It is a privilege to work for readers. Every day we receive tips from people who are concerned about their communities, state government and the economy. We do our level best to get beyond the echo chamber news generated by the PR machine and cover issues readers are really concerned about. Every day, however, there are important stories we can’t tell because we don’t have the resources.
We are excited about the Growth Fund because it will help us increase our reporting staff as we build our sustainable business model. We believe Vermont needs more reporters. Over the past 20 years, the state has lost 50 newsroom staff at local daily newspapers because of a loss of advertising revenue to Google and Facebook.
Westphal says VTDigger is a ray of hope at a time when newspapers continue to decline. Nationwide, 20,000 newsroom jobs have been eliminated, according to a recent report from the Columbia Journalism School.
We have readers to thank for our success. Readers who believe in the power of journalism to expose the truth, hold government to account and empower people who don’t have a voice.
Thank you for being there for VTDigger.