The coverage provided by many nonprofit news websites is partisan or ideological in nature, says a new study from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.
The study compared 39 nonprofit news websites to seven new for-profit news sites and found that nonprofit sites with fewer funders and revenue streams tended to be less balanced in their coverage and less transparent about their missions and their funding sources.
“The fact that a news site is a nonprofit does not define what kind of news it produces,” Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, says in a statement. “Some fit squarely into the traditions of independent news gathering, offering a wide range of perspectives about current events. Others fall more closely toward partisan news or even political activism.”
Almost half the sites studied, all of which covered national or statewide news, were ideological in nature and often provided only one point of view.
And for controversial articles, about half provided only a single point of view, and only 2 percent provided more than two viewpoints.
Reporters were few at many sites, with about a third of the nonprofit sites publishing articles from only one or two people.
The organizations behind the nonprofit sites rarely disclose significant information about their funding sources, with more than half providing no funding information.
To produce the study, Pew researchers combed through 1,203 news stories and researched dozens of institutions and individuals who support nonprofit news sites.