The relationship between journalism and nonprofit work is tricky. Journalists cannot take donations from a source that could potentially sway the journalist or cause bias in the reporting. Since journalists are supposed to be the unbiased watch dog of our society, accepting donations or payment of any kind, similar to how nonprofits raise money, would be an ethical issue for said journalist. However, there is one journalistic platform that is not for profit yet exemplary of journalistic work: The Associated Press.
The Associated Press (AP) is an independent not for profit news source that reports in over 100 countries around the world and covers a wide range of topic from breaking news to investigative work. AP has earned over 52 Pulitzer Prizes, the most recent award was for Public Service and their investigation in to the fishing industry in 2016.
“We have been breaking news and covering the world’s biggest stories, always committed to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism. We were founded as an independent news cooperative and remain owned by our U.S. newspaper and broadcast members, steadfast in our mission to inform the world.” – stated on AP.org
AllSides is a news source that focuses on informing the public about what news sources are ethical and unbiased. “AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.”
AP strives to inform the public while upholding the highest level of morality. Most of the staff are unionized and part of the Newspaper Guild. AP has also implemented an Emergency Relief Fund for its employees. This fund strives to protect reporter around the world when faced with natural disaster or political uprisings. The money raised for the fund aims to “rebuild homes, replace destroyed belongings, and move families to safe houses.” In addition to the level of HR excellence, AP also paved the way for other newspapers dealing with the Freedom of Information Act in 2016 with its work on documents related to the Orlando nightclub shooting.
This is very rare for journalism. AP is an ethical nonprofit because it accepts its funding from companies and donors from the same industry, with the same ethical standings and morality, thus the nonprofit is stable and will last. However, if AP accepted large donations from other sources, the company’s level of morality would be questioned because certain figures in our society donate or pay for media that strategically covers topics of interest related to the company.
Investigative reporting has faced this issue the most. There has been an extreme lack of funding for journalism, especially written investigative reporting. In order to save this industry, one would probably first ask for donations from upper-class individuals and sources. However, the watch dogs of our society can’t be watch dogs if their subjects are paying for their mere existence.
One example of investigative reporting that deals with high class influences effecting news outlets is a book written by Jane Mayer, “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.” In this book, she discusses the influence individuals have with deep pockets. Some of the topics she covers in this book can be seen in today’s society, especially after the most recent election. News sources were altered or just bluntly put, faked. The general public wasn’t empowered with every piece of honest and relevant piece of information needed before casting their vote for the leader of the new free world.
Although journalism has faced a decrease in funding, and struggles to employ a not for profit structure, AP does an amazing job at setting the ideal example for the future of journalism. The atmosphere of the journalism industry is changing, and if you want to be informed with the best, fastest, and most ethical information, pay attention to what news sources you like and how those sources are funded. I promise, it makes a difference.