SXSW: Nonprofit Journalism

Observer Panel at SXSW Interactive: Survival of the Scrappiest


That so many badge holders attended the Observer’s SXSW Interactive panel, “Nonprofit Journalism: Survival of the Scrappiest,” while Grumpy Cat reluctantly posed for photos and the eponymous Game of Thrones…er…throne awaited masses of asses, justified our months of prep work.

The Observer went nonprofit in the ’90s. When it comes to being scrappy, we’re just about as scrappy as nonprofit journalism outfits come. What wisdom could we impart to other nonprofit magazines and websites struggling to keep up the journalistic fight in the age of pay walls and social media? This was the impetus for Saturday’s panel. Luckily, we had a little help from our friends.

Joining me on the panel was Meghann Farnsworth, the Senior Manager of Distribution and Online Engagement for the Center for Investigative Reporting who told us how to create revenue through content distribution. Texas Tribune Festival director Tanya Erlach stressed the fundraising potential of hosting events. Cherilyn Parsons, formerly of the Center for Investigative Reporting and who is currently creating a book festival creator for the San Francisco Bay area, shared her extensive knowledge in philanthropic fundraising. Meanwhile, I talked about how to get the most bang for your social media buck with a small staff.

The above video chronicles the entirety of “Survival of the Scrappiest” including a Q&A in which audience members asked insightful questions about topics ranging from the publishing of free content to covering religion as a nonprofit organization.