Monday, February 03, 2020

Media's past, civil society's future?

For the last decade(s) or so, there has been much attention to the blurring of lines between nonprofits and social businesses. Much of the pressure is self-inflicted by funders and nonprofits looking for sustainable revenue models. The rise of impact investing is part of this story. I'm bringing it up just as background - just to say any nostalgic differentiation between businesses and nonprofits need to be reconsidered by looking at the reality of revenue generation practices.

This isn't the blurring that interests me, however. It's on the other boundaries - between charitable (nonprofit) and political. And here I think we have an analogous experience - unfolding as we speak - to learn from. In short my hypothesis is this - the changes in the news media landscape in the USA over the last 15 years portends the future of nonprofit organizations in the country.

It's not a pretty story. It's one of failing business models, new alternatives, a failure of professional ethics and practice to provide distinguishing value, an explosion of choices that consumers don't differentiate between, and a collapse of trust.

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