The Institute for Nonprofit News and their WordPress Work

One of the reasons I started KinshiPress is I believe there’s an emerging ecosystem of exciting publishing start-ups.

Many of these publishers started around 2020, are non-profit or owned by the journalists, and almost all use WordPress.

A new ecosystem must have supporting organizations, and for these emerging publishers, few are more supportive than INN (Institute for Nonprofit News).

Introducing INN

INN is a fascinating organization because they’re building a community of innovative publishers.

INN exists to support news organizations with “education and business support”. INN has been around since 2009 but didn’t really start to grow until recently. Even four years ago, INN had less than 200 members. It now has over 400. You can see a map of their members.

INN has long encouraged their members to move to WordPress, even running their own WordPress hosting service at one point. They ran a large multi-site network to host publishers.

I spoke with Adam Schweigert who worked at INN during these early days:

For a time we were doing quite a bit [of WordPress development] and it was one of the most notable things INN was doing for a few years. It was definitely a big driver of growth for them. Basically they offered hosting for free, and custom work at a discount. This was subsidized by grants and larger contracts we had with some for-profit and larger nonprofit news organizations. Some of the plugins we built have landed at Automattic and are used by Newspack, who actively maintain a few of them. What’s left of the core WP work we did (a framework called Largo) has been semi-maintained by one of the former developers.

Today, nearly all INN publishers still use WordPress. But in recent years, INN has pivoted away from tech support and towards helping publishers grow revenue through programs like Newsmatch. Here’s Adam again:

The growth in INN membership is partly attributable to the fact that they provide money every year through Newsmatch. If you were a small publisher you’d be crazy not to join INN for what they charge (as low as $150 per year). With Newsmatch they can hand you a match worth $10,000’s for your year-end campaign”

Sue Cross is the CEO of INN and has led the organization through it’s recent growth. She is stepping down later this year, but this podcast from “What Works” is a good summary of her work.

In addition to financial help, INN also hosts awards, produces annual reports on the state of non-profit news, provides distribution options, and more.

Why INN is Important

I’ve been writing that something new is growing in US journalism.

Why is an ecosystem of new publishers emerging now? One of the reasons is that there are supporting organizations and tech partners. Many of these didn’t exist a few years ago. There are organizations like INN, Press Forward, Tiny News Collective, States Newsroom, Report for America, Local Independent Online News, and The American Journalism Project. There are tech partners such as Newspack, PaywallProject, Lede and IndieGraf. I hope that here at KinshiPress we can shine a light on these groups and companies as they emerge and grow.

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