Nonprofit journalism has been a growing trend nationwide, and now non-profit journalism has come to the New River Valley. This week, Freedom Foundation of Southwest Virginia (FFSWVA) received its 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service and is now a nonprofit community organization ready to accept tax-exempt donations.
This step forward for the FFSWVA will allow it to support the online publication called the New River Voice. New River Voice Editor Tim W. Jackson says it has been a goal for quite a while to move to non-profit journalism.
“We hope that our new affiliation with the Freedom Foundation of Southwest Virginia will allow the New River Voice to become the model of small-market, non-profit journalism in the United States,” Jackson says. “We are looking forward to expanding our coverage and being the kind of news organization that this area deserves.”
The connection between the FFSWVA and New River Voice is a positive move for journalism in the area. Russ Walker, Elections Editor at Yahoo! News as well as a member of the Voice Editorial Advisory Board says, “I’m excited about the work NRV will be doing. It, along with a handful of nonprofit startups across the country, is paving a new way forward for journalism—one that’s not mourning the past but instead embraces the future.”
Dan Smith agrees. “I believe it is vital, especially in areas not fully served by large news organizations, that a new form of journalism be encouraged to grow and prosper,” says Smith, Editor and Founder of Roanoke-based Valley Business FRONT, and a member of the Voice Editorial Advisory Board. “Help may be on the way in the form of independent, online, nonprofit publications that don’t depend on Kroger’s Thursday advertising of weekend specials to pay the bills.”
Jackson, who just returned from the Knight Digital Media Center News Entrepreneur Boot Camp at the University of Southern California, says there was a lot of talk in Los Angeles about the growing trend and value of non-profit news as well as the importance of investigative journalism and community news.
Jackson says, “I’m excited because it indicates that journalism and business professionals on a national level have faith in what we are doing and the direction we’re heading with the New River Voice. We truly want to be a voice for the community, and we hope the community will support us in that endeavor.”