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What influences waves of donations?

The moment of tension between the GOP and the press after the 2016 election fueled unprecedented donation and subscription revenue for news organizations, demonstrating that context matters for journalism that’s perceived as a public good and its ability to raise outside funds.

When president-elect Trump challenged the media’s credibility, he inadvertently drove support for news organizations that specialized in holding the powerful accountable. Media organizations that had already built relationships of trust with readers could share how donor dollars would boost work that focused on politics. That fit, and the emotional undercurrent of that moment, generated massive revenue.

“Nonprofit newsrooms have long sought to position themselves as civic resources, relying on the same skills as newspapers and television stations, but without profit motives or a dependence on advertisers. As traditional news organizations with dwindling resources have curtailed their ambitions in recent years, nonprofit news groups have sought to pick up the expensive work of investigative and accountability journalism — though often with a fraction of the audience.”