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This learning module was funded by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. It was reported and written by Brant Houston and Andy Hall.

image Brant Houston currently holds the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting in the College of Media at the University of Illinois, where he teaches investigative and advanced reporting. He was an award-winning investigative reporter for 17 years before serving as executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) for a decade.

image Andy Hall is executive director and reporter at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, which produces work at and is located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A former IRE board member, Hall won dozens of awards in his 26-plus year reporting career.

Welcome message from co-author Andy Hall.

There's been an explosion in the number of nonprofit news sites, and now you're considering joining this exciting movement.

Here's a word of caution: You won't just be doing journalism. You will be an employer, a manager, a grants writer, a negotiator and sometimes a bookkeeper. You'll have a steep learning curve. But if you decide to go ahead, you'll be in good company: Scores of enthusiastic and dedicated people have gone before you and formed journalism nonprofits that are carrying out good work.


This module sets out to identify the hurdles you'll face and guide you through the process of creating a nonprofit newsroom. Even if you ultimately decide that you want to create a for-profit business, you'll find some useful tips in this module.

In any case, proceed with caution. If you have a job, don't quit it until a solid framework is in place for your new organization. You'll need to draw upon every bit of that planning time -- and adapt to changing conditions -- to start and sustain a nonprofit.

How to use this module:

We've laid out the steps you will need to take to get up and running as a nonprofit news site. We advise that you go in this order, but you can also skip around to pertinent sections.

Within the steps are videos from founders and documents provided by a number of nonprofit news sites, in addition to blank forms that you will likely need to fill out. All of this is meant to serve as a resource, and we recommend you seek advice from other people, sometimes professionals, as well.

On the bottom of every page, you'll find a link to get to the next section, and a link to return you to the table of contents. And in Step 12, you'll find additional resources to help once you're ready to go.

Table of Contents: