New York’s nonprofit news outlet “The City” faces financial challenges, prompting a series of cost-saving initiatives, underscoring a broader trend of dwindling philanthropic support for journalism.
Launched in 2019, The City acknowledged in its annual report from the same year that it “received extraordinary launch support from lead founding donors the Charles H. Reason Foundation, the Leon Levy Foundation, and Craig Newmark Philanthropies and its distinguished board.”
However, that backing has waned, compelling The City to implement cost-saving measures to sustain operations.
The City’s internal meetings exposed a concerning decrease in funding this year by approximately $1.5 million, a sharp contrast to the previous year’s $7.5 million contributions.
Major contributors have either decreased their donations or halted them entirely. Craig Newmark Philanthropies, a primary benefactor of The City, scaled back its contribution to a mere $10,000, marking a considerable decline from the multi-million-dollar commitments of previous years.
The Ford Foundation has not issued any grant to The City this year.
In a bid to counter potential layoffs, The City has entered into an agreement with its staff to curtail working hours by 20%.
This move enables employees to utilize the New York State Workshare program, which offers partial compensation through state unemployment.
Nic Dawes, Executive Director of The City, remarked that nonprofit journalism is “not exempt from the forces affecting philanthropy and the wider media sector.”
While Dawes lauded the 33% audience surge this year, he acknowledged the news outlet’s revenue challenges.
He said, “We have been exploring ways to reduce our costs while keeping the engine of our journalism firing and sustaining our ability to fundraise.
“Although this path is the best option for us and preserves the newsroom and wider organization, it is still a tough and painful moment,” Dawes added.
Tom Robbins, a senior reporter, tendered his resignation to help minimize potential job losses.
Robbins, expressing his deep affinity for the organization, stated, “The City has real heart which is rare in this biz and will weather this storm.”
The diminishing financial support isn’t unique to The City. Across the nation, many nonprofit news organizations, including the Texas Tribune and The Intercept, are grappling with similar financial constraints.
Industry experts suggest that the rapid proliferation of nonprofit news platforms exceeds available funds, leading to intense competition for limited resources.