Chi-Town Daily News Finds No Benefit In Being Non-Profit

After struggling for three years as a non-profit, local Chicago news site Chi-Town Daily News is ready to go commercial, editor Geoff Dougherty says in blog post. Despite funding from the Knight Foundation, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Abra Prentice Foundation, and others, Chi-Town “didn’t come close” to raising the $1 million to $2 million in donations needed to keep the project afloat. Last year, the site raised only $300,000.
This year, as a result of the miserable economy, Chi-Town was unlikely to meet even that low level. Instead, the site’s editorial staff will start a new publication with a completely different name trying to make money with a model giving established media a hard time. Unspecified angel funders have been lined up and Dougherty is trying to net a few more. He’s also talking with some local Chicago non-profits interested in possibly acquiring the site. While a number of such efforts have sprung up the past few years, such as MinnPost and ProPublica, the non-profit model hasn’t proved any less vulnerable than established companies to the swings of the economy, whether it’s a lack of advertisers or the paucity of donors to go around.