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The Growing Strength of Public Media Local Journalism

By Elizabeth Hansen Shapiro, Mark Fuerst, Caroline Porter

We live in an era of shrinking local journalism capacity. By now we all know the statistics: Since 2005 more than one in four newspapers — 2,500 total — have shuttered in the U.S. Overall employment in the newspaper industry has decreased 70% as total newspaper revenues have dropped 60%. Two out of three counties in the U.S. do not have a daily newspaper, and four million Americans do not have access to any local newspaper.

At the same time, we live in an era of expanding local news experimentation. The number of local journalism collaborations, digital start-ups, and nonprofit newsrooms has grown over the last decade. For instance, between 2018 and 2020, 33 local news organizations in the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) network launched, and according to a July 2022 report, the total number of local nonprofit organizations in the INN network has doubled since 2017.

Yet perhaps the biggest development in local journalism expansion and policy has been hiding in plain sight.

In many places around the country, strong public media stations are stepping in to fill the holes left by shrinking daily metro newsrooms by building up their staffs and leaning into new products and platforms. Other stations are partnering with newsrooms in their communities in new and innovative ways that support the overall growth of local news capacity in their regions. And National Public Radio remains a dynamic national news organization with opportunities to deepen collaboration with its local member stations.

But what is the scale of this growth? With this research, we aim to increase collective knowledge about one set of important institutions we have at the ready for rebuilding local news: The public media system, especially the stations associated with NPR. The evolution and increasing strength of some local public broadcasting institutions in providing local journalism deserve a close look, not just to understand the role public broadcasting can play in rebuilding local news, but to draw lessons from a robust and mature media ecosystem that can inform the development of fledgling local media enterprises everywhere.

This piece is an abridged version of our research and presents key findings and arguments. For a downloadable version of the full report, see here.

Methodology and Approach

We compiled the research for this report with three areas of focus: journalism capacity, sustainability, and reach.

Over the course of 2021 and 2022, we gathered data on journalism capacity from individuals at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, GBH, and the Station Resource Group. We collected data about the number of journalism positions in public media across the country, the number of licensees with at least 15 full-time news positions, and the number of licensees providing local news stories for NPR broadcasts.

Over the course of 2021 and 2022, we gathered data on sustainability from individuals at Blackbaud, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Greater Public, National Public Radio, and Station Resource Group. We gathered data about total revenue for news-focused licensees, revenue streams, trends in individual giving and federal funding, the ownership type of broadcast licenses, and projections about the growth of the public radio donor base. We also produced our own analysis using Corporation for Public Broadcasting data from the largest 123 news-focused public radio licensees, collected and tracked since 2015 by one of our authors.

Over the course of 2021 and 2022, we gathered data on sustainability from individuals at Audience Research Analysis, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Greater Public, National Public Radio, Radio Research Consortium, and Station Resource Group. We compiled data about the total weekly audience for public media licensees, the growth of local and regional news collaborations, the percentage of the population reached by public media, total NPR digital weekly audience reach, website and podcast metrics, demographic breakdowns of listener metrics, station rankings, and listener trends before and during the pandemic. In March 2022, we also conducted an original analysis of 119 public radio licensees’ websites to count the number of original newsletters, original news programming, and online story updates.

From these sources, we compiled a unique and multi-faceted dataset which offers the most comprehensive view to date of the size, scale, and scope of public media local journalism.

THE GROWING FINANCIAL STRENGTH OF LOCAL PUBLIC RADIO

The growth of public media is best understood through examining the growing financial strength of the local organizations that own and run public radio signals. (We refer to these organizations as “licensees” and their broadcast signals as “stations.”) This section lays out the key indicators of growing financial strength among local public radio licensees.

News-focused public radio licensees have enjoyed stable and growing revenue across the decade. According to an analysis performed by one of our authors, total direct revenue for the largest 123 news-focused public radio licensees has grown steadily, from roughly $678 million in FY2009 to just under $1 billion in FY2020. More than 40% of FY2020 revenue in this group came from individual giving (a term that combines small and major gifts), while underwriting (the public media form of advertising) accounted for about 23% of revenue that year. These two categories represent the largest streams of revenue for public stations in FY2020.

Americans have been giving to public radio in greater numbers across the past decade. If we look more broadly at the entire system of public radio stations (including all news, music, and eclectic formatted stations), the donor base and individual giving capacity for public radio stations continues to grow, even in the face of increasing competition for media donations. In FY2020, according to CPB annual financial reports analyzed by the Station Resource Group, individual giving came to nearly $600 million across the entire set of public radio stations, from a donor base of about 3.5 million. By comparison, in FY2009, the entire set of public radio stations had a base of just 2.5 million donors who provided just under $400 million.

The last five years has seen an increase in giving levels in the public radio donor base. Available data suggest that small-level, mid-level, and major-level givers have all increased their support to public radio in the last five years, according to a detailed analysis of giving patterns in 54 public radio stations by Greater Public. Small-level givers are those who donate up to $249 per year. Mid-level givers are those who donate $250 to $999; and, major-level givers are those who give $1,000 to $9,999. Greater Public found that the size of each cohort of small-level, mid-level, and major-level givers increased from 2016 to 2020, and the amount that the individuals were giving in each cohort also increased. Relatedly, a 2021 report prepared by Blackbaud’s Target Analytics of 63 stations found that the revenue per donor increased from $150 in 2016 to $175 in 2020.

Public radio has enjoyed an increase in both sustainers (those who give monthly) and major donors over the last five years. According to the same detailed analysis of giving patterns in 54 public radio stations performed by Greater Public, the percentage of public radio donors who are sustaining members grew from approximately 500,000 in 2016 to approximately 700,000 in 2020. In 2016, about 20 stations surveyed by Greater Public reported that at least half of their donors were providing support through sustainer programs. By 2020, nearly 40 stations reported that at least half of their givers were sustainers.

These two reports documenting the expansion of sustainer-donors provide additional evidence of increased financial capacity in public media. Sustaining donors renew at much higher rates than single-gift annual donors, and often contribute at higher levels of annual giving. So the growth of sustainers tells us the donor files of public radio licensees are likely to be strong, durable financial assets in the near and medium term.

Major giving and planned giving are poised for expansion in public radio. The public media support organization Greater Public has been leading an initiative to encourage public radio licensees to expand their major giving and planned giving programs. Amongst the licensee members in their initiative, Greater Public found in April 2021 that medium-performing licensees in the cohort were receiving around $2 million per year in major gifts, high-performing licensees were receiving $7.6 million and very high-performing licensees, $8.4 million. Based on projections of giving capacity in the donor base, Greater Public set expansion expectations of more than double those amounts in the next five years: $4.7 million for medium-performing licensees and $19 million for high-performing and very high-performing licensees.

More growth potential remains across the public radio system. While there is a top tier of very successful news-focused public media licensees, we see an opportunity for more licensees to capitalize on their strong positions in their local markets. For example, of the 123 news-focused public radio licensees analyzed by one of our authors, seven earned revenue of more than $25 million each in FY2020, with another 15 licensees earning more than $10 million each. These midsize news-focused licensees have room to grow. Beyond the set of news-focused licensees, there is a long tail of smaller licensees with revenue earnings of less than $10 million. Most CPB-funded radio licensees fall into this third category, and there is room for growth here too.

News-focused public radio licensees are supported by a declining share of public funding. According to an analysis performed by one of our authors of the largest 123 news-focused public radio licensees, the share of public dollars supporting these licensees (in the form of CPB funding, state funding, and public institutional funds) has declined as their other revenue streams have expanded. This trend among the largest news-focused licensees, however, does not shed light on the inequalities between station owners. Smaller stations, typically those serving sparsely populated rural areas, are supported by a much larger share of federal dollars than large stations serving populous areas.

News-focused public radio licensees are spending more on content than fundraising. As revenue has grown in the sector, the data we collected suggest news-focused public radio licensees are spending more resources on producing content and expanding news capacity than on fundraising. In our analysis of 123 news-focused public radio licensees, we found that these licensees spent $640.2 million directly on content production in FY2020. If we account for the full cost of content production, including promotion and delivery, that figure rises to $712.4 million or 69% of total revenues. By comparison, the combined cost of fundraising for licensees’ “generated income” was $202.4 million in 2020, representing 19% of total FY2020 revenues. In other words, as revenues in the system have expanded, public radio stations are spending 3.52 times more on content and its delivery than they are spending on fundraising.

Public radio is spending more on content than fundraising. As revenue has grown in the sector, the data we collected suggest public radio station licensees are spending more resources on producing content and expanding news capacity than on fundraising. In our analysis of 123 public radio licensees, we found that these licensees spent $640.2 million directly on content production in FY2020. If we account for the full cost of content production, including promotion and delivery, that figure rises to $712.4 million or 69% of total revenues. By comparison, the combined cost of fundraising for licensees’ “generated income” was $202.4 million in 2020, representing 19% of total FY2020 revenues. In other words, as revenues in the system have expanded, public radio stations are spending 3.52 times more on content and its delivery than they are spending on fundraising.

GROWING NEWS CAPACITY: MORE REPORTERS AND MORE LOCAL NEWS CONTENT

We gathered data from across the public radio system to paint a picture of growing news capacity. The data clearly show that the number of journalists working in public radio has increased, along with investments in new news formats.

Increasing numbers of journalists work at a local public broadcasting station. Despite the significant headwinds facing local journalism in recent years, the number of journalists working in both local public radio and local public television has grown. Drawing from data from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, our research found that between 2016 and 2021, the number of local journalists in public media grew from 3,694 positions in 2016 to 4,148 positions in 2021. By comparison, between 2016 and 2020, newspaper newsroom employment dropped from 42,450 to 30,820.

A few public radio stations are growing newsrooms that rival the size of metro daily newspapers. More than 40 public radio licensees supported at least 15 full-time local reporting positions in FY2020. Of those licensees, more than 10 stations supported at least 40 full-time local reporting positions each. One licensee, WBUR in Boston, was nearing 100 full-time local news positions as of 2020. And in a remarkable advance for the public media industry, Chicago Public Media in Chicago announced in January 2022 that it was acquiring the Chicago Sun-Times (and its newsroom of about 100 people) as part of a local journalism strategy that attracted $61 million in philanthropic funding.

Increasing and maturing local journalism content

As local public media newsrooms have expanded, they have also become innovation hubs for local media, often hiring editorial talent from shrinking newspapers and expanding their public-service mandate to include text-based local news.

The most sophisticated public radio stations (and a few sophisticated public television stations) now have large multi-platform newsrooms with an array of local media products. These media organizations, like WFAE in Charlotte and WBUR in Boston, are building on a foundation of local news broadcast formats which are, in some cases, decades old. In this section, we review the types of local journalism content being produced in public radio and televisions.

Local News Call-In Shows. Perhaps the most basic public radio local news format is the local news talk show. Often produced with listener call-in opportunities, these types of local shows create forums for live dialogue and debate on local issues and the local implications of national and international news. WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, WGBH’s Boston Public Radio with Jim Braude and Margery Eagan, and Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson are examples of local talk shows which have reached local institution status with loyal followings and longtime hosts. Of 119 NPR member stations program schedules we analyzed in March 2022, we found 53% had at least one local news magazine (discussed below) or a news/talk call-in program running each weekday, Monday through Friday.

Local Newscasts. The NPR newscast format itself is a blend of local and national news. The NPR newsmagazine “clock,” which structures and coordinates the on-air time of its member stations in the popular commuting hours, leaves segments open for local stations to produce and air their own local news content. According to the NPR audience insights team, the local segments in the NPR One app consistently perform well, and listeners to local newscasts within the app return to the app at a higher rate than those who listen only to national news segments. Additionally, an October 2021 NPR audience insights listener survey found that 40% of listeners using the app “feel more connected to their local station and informed about local issues.”

Local News Magazines. In addition to call-in shows and hourly newscasts, some public radio and television stations also produce daily or weekly local news magazines. These formats, which are meant to mirror popular national offerings like the The PBS Newshour and NPR’s All Things Considered, are usually hour-long shows featuring a handful of local news stories. NJ PBS’s nightly news magazine NJ Spotlight News (rebranded and strengthened with the acquisition of the digital news website NJ Spotlight), WBUR’s Radio Boston, and Texas Standard, a statewide news program produced in collaboration primarily by four stations in Texas are three examples.

Local News Digital Sites. The shift to public media digital news has been many years in the making, particularly amongst NPR member stations. NPR maintains a digital team focused on providing a low-cost centralized digital platform support to stations of all sizes. The stations using the NPR-provided content management system are able to publish both national NPR News and local news content. The largest stations in the NPR member ecosystem maintain their own sophisticated digital news platforms, many with the ability to target content and messaging, recruit and convert new members, and deliver an array of sponsorship and advertising products. All of these sites host both listening and text-based local news products. Of 119 stations the authors accessed online in March 2022, we found that 98% had published original local news content in the previous 24 hours. We also found that 50% were publishing an email newsletter focused on local news sent Monday through Friday.

Local News Podcasts. Many stations were distributing their local news talk shows, newscasts, and newsmagazines as podcasts long before the podcast renaissance gained steam in 2014. The exponential growth in podcast listening has birthed another wave of audio-based local news products in public media. The strongest local public media stations are producing new local news podcasts such as The KOSU Daily by KOSU in central and northeast Oklahoma, Vermont Public Radio’s The Frequency, and KQED’s The Bay. And the public media producer and distributor PRX now runs a local news podcast incubator to help local stations create new audio-based local news products.

EXPLAINING PUBLIC MEDIA LOCAL JOURNALISM EVOLUTION AND EXPANSION

What accounts for the growth of public media local journalism amongst public radio stations? This is a key question for policy makers, funders, and industry leaders looking to rebuild local news. We attribute the growth of public media local journalism to three fundamental related features of the public media system: organizational sophistication and maturity, the federated structure of public media, and the resulting financial strength of the system as a whole.

Organizational sophistication and maturity. One key driver of the sustained expansion in local journalism capacity and local public service is the increasing sophistication and maturity of public media organizations, especially amongst the largest stations. Leading public media stations have invested in developing efficacy across key organizational components. Investment in strengthening editorial, formal human resources capacity, product development capability, marketing and sales expertise, development muscle, and editorial strength have each been critical to the local journalism growth of the strongest stations.

The organizational strength and sophistication of the largest licensees have also allowed them to pursue resource efficiencies and to be able to house multiple media services under one administrative apparatus. For example, Louisville Public Media has a classical music radio service, a news/talk service, and an adult alternative music service, as well as an investigative reporting center, all under a single operating organization. This kind of arrangement allows a public broadcaster to maximize revenues and service while sharing costs.

The culture and leadership of large public broadcasters has also undergone a growth spurt. As these organizations have matured, their leaders have come together to engage in more advanced, station-level and industry-level planning. This includes ambitious cross-industry coordinated audience growth efforts like the Station Resource Group’s 2010–2011 effort to grow the public media audience.

The federated structure of public media. The U.S. public media system is structured as a federated network in which local licensees retain their own governance and decision rights but affiliate together through contracts and membership in national organizations. This means that while there are strong network actors (NPR and PRX, for example) that can share pools of resources, licensees operate independently of each other with their own governance and ultimate decision-making for products and services.

This federated structure has created an underlying buffer against organizational decay–allowing licensees to mature and embark on individual developmental paths. Licensee boards tend to be robust and well-developed with strong links to other community institutions. Licensees, as a result, have a remarkable longevity, despite many of them outgrowing their founding educational and cultural mandates. For example, NPR launched with 88 member licensees in 1970, and as of 2022 there are 250. These NPR members own and operate more than 1,000 station signals nationwide, as of fall 2021.

Increased resources and business model sustainability. Our analysis leads us to conclude that the result of growing organizational sophistication, buttressed by the federated structure of public media, has been an increase in resources and sustainability for individual licensees and the public media system as a whole. Mature stations in major media markets in particular have grown dramatically over the last five decades, especially compared to other local media outlets. This is remarkable given the overall corporatization and digitization of media and shrinking of commercial local news media during the same time period.

All of these factors combine to explain the central observation that attracted our attention: Namely, news-focused licensees and the stations they control appear to be expanding their local journalism capacity during a period when other sectors of the local journalism industry were contracting. Especially among the larger public radio licensees, the maturity of their organizations, the increasing sophistication of their leadership and the strength of their revenues have provided a strong, stable foundation that these organizations are using to continue their role as NPR affiliates for national news and, now, to expand their role of providing original local news content within local markets.

CAVEATS

Having reviewed the sustainability, capacity, and reach of the public media system, as well as the insights generated through this assessment, we turn now to address the limitations of our analysis and weaknesses within the public media system.

Public media professionals are having to define and refine what local news means.

“Local news” means different things in different markets. In many public media organizations, local news means metro or regional news, rather than community or hyperlocal news. As public media seeks to exert more leadership in local journalism, we see public media professionals working to become more specific about the different needs of the audiences served. Defining “local news” includes examining what it means to “serve the public.” In broadcast formats, reaching the local public entails attracting people across wide geographic areas to tune into a radio or television signal. Embedded concepts of a general broadcast “public” do not translate well into other media, particularly digital media, where media consumers are used to more tailored content.

Institutional change is slow.

Public media institutions have many stakeholders; the most successful ones are deeply embedded in their communities and in the wider public media system networks. Some licensees are part of university systems, others operate as independent nonprofit organizations. Many are required by CPB to have community advisory boards. The multiple overlapping stakeholder groups lend a richness and heft to public media — they also can significantly slow the process of change. Investments in public media are not an “instant results” proposition. Change tends to be slow but long-lasting — and highly dependent on visionary leadership and strong upper management teams.

As we assess the pace of change we can expect in the public media system, one critically important organizational feature stands out: Whether the station’s public broadcasting license is held by an educational institution or a community-based nonprofit. Of the licensees supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, about 46%, or 184 public radio licensees, are owned by a university. Nearly 43%, or 171 public radio licensees, are community-owned. The remaining 11% of public radio licensees are state and local-authority owned.

Institutional ownership by a university, community college, or state entity provides financial resources and shared services, but can also create confusing and conflicting governance because other interests (in universities, for example) can dominate the agenda. Institutional licensees in universities or as part of state agencies can face constraints on content development, fundraising, hiring, policy, and human resources. Indeed, the most innovative stations have tended to be “community licensees,” that is, public broadcasters governed independently from any other institution. WNYC in New York and WBEZ in Chicago are two examples of stations that became more dynamic after they changed their local government ownership model and became independent community licensees.

Growing audience and public service over the airwaves has often meant underserving already underserved audiences.

The irony of public media’s secret to audience growth is that public media content often super-serves those most likely to listen often and contribute: educated, white, affluent audiences. The concerted and successful audience development efforts beginning in 1988 have produced a large, loyal, supportive audience of mainly educated, white listeners and viewers. Perhaps the most critical insight of those audience studies was that level of education is the variable that most closely predicts listening, loyalty, and ultimately giving.

Public media is being called to account for the audience it has created, and many efforts are underway to expand content and service to truly diverse audiences. Given the slow pace of institutional change, this will take time and leadership. But because the institutional mission of public media highlights the value of public service, change is happening.

Gradual changes to broadcast listening and viewing habits will continue to put pressure on licensees to evolve or lose relevance.

The pandemic led to a dip in broadcasting listening and surfaced questions about changing habits among consumers. Listening levels in closely-researched markets dropped from about 9 million listeners in winter 2020 to about 6.7 million listeners in spring 2020. By fall 2021, that number had returned to about 8.1 million listeners. The Radio Research Consortium, a nonprofit research group for non-commercial radio stations, attests in its report that “90% of listening (AQH) is back.” While in-home listening maintained roughly the same numbers of listeners throughout the pandemic, the out-of-home listening numbers have yet to fully return to their pre-pandemic numbers.

While over-the-air broadcast viewing and listening continues a gradual decline, that decline is far from evenly distributed over time and place. The push-and-pull of fluctuating viewing and listening habits is putting pressure on licensees to evolve even more quickly, and become even more sophisticated in the ways they develop news and information products and deliver those to audiences across platforms.

Inequalities in the public broadcast system mirror inequalities in the country as a whole.

Public media growth and evolution has been concentrated among licensees whose metro areas have tended to enjoy disproportionate population and economic growth. As shown above, amongst the roughly 120 public radio licensees one of our authors examined, seven earned more than $25 million each in FY2020 revenue, while another 15 stations earned more than $10 million each. There is a long tail of smaller stations with revenue earnings of less than $10 million, and most stations fall into this third category.

CPB, NPR, PBS, and other national organizations work hard to help mitigate these imbalances at a network level. But differences in resources and capacity remain. For licensees that have grown large enough to have specialized development staffing, the pace of growth increased, while others have stagnated.

LESSONS LEARNED

We hope our data and insights shed light on an area of strength and evolution in local journalism. We also hope that policymakers, industry leaders, and journalism funders will draw some lessons from the growth and expansion of public media that will contribute to the overall task of rebuilding local news. In this final section, we offer three key lessons learned from our public media research that should inform those working to rebuild local news.

Lesson 1: The “network effect” of public media cannot be overstated.

Our first lesson is that building and nurturing multi-faceted networks among news organizations is just as important as boosting direct support for newsgathering. Public media organizations and public media audiences have benefited hugely from the highly networked structure of the field. The networks supporting public media take many forms: content collaborations, shared services, professional associations. The most visible network is the formal local/national content sharing system, which is supported by shared distribution technologies. But the infrastructure backbone network is one of many supporting the growth and vitality of public media.

Other layers of shared infrastructure have evolved over time — including shared digital infrastructure built and maintained through network leaders like NPR and PBS. While these infrastructures have tended to support national sharing to local partners rather than vice versa (with the exception of PRX), active and robust conversations are taking place about how to build the next set of digital infrastructure that supports and enhances stations as local news organizations.

Policymakers, journalism funders, and industry leaders in other parts of media can learn from the successes of public media networks and invest in growing the layered, networked capacity of news organizations operating in other media.

Lesson 2: Media organizations and media systems take time to mature.

Our second lesson is that true change in local media takes time, because media organizations and media systems require time to mature. Most public media stations are at least 50 years old. Many digital news organizations in operation today, by contrast, are less than a decade old. For example, according to the INN Index published in July 2022, more than 135 member organizations launched within the past five years, about double the number over the prior five-year period.

But we have also learned from our research that smart investments can speed the maturation of organizations and the evolution of local media systems. From our analysis of the drivers of growth in public radio, we would agree with funders like the American Journalism Project that investing in the business-side capacity of new news organizations and supporting the growth of their development staff should yield positive results for sustainability. Our research shows that the pace of growth amongst the public radio stations that have become old enough and large enough to have specialized development staffing has increased relative to peers that have not made those investments.

The current strength and vitality of public media took decades to come to fruition. Because organizations and media systems take time to mature, funders and industry leaders should continue to take the long view in the task of rebuilding local news.

Lesson 3: Many public media organizations are ready to serve as anchor institutions for their ecosystems.

Our final lesson relates to the huge opportunity that public media presents for those looking to rebuild local news. The last decade has seen an explosion of experimentation in local news and new news organizations foundings as the newspaper-based local media system has atrophied. If the challenge is to sustain and grow these new experiments and new newsrooms, then local ecosystem-level leadership has to be in place in order to achieve greater impact with fewer resources, and to foster collaboration instead of competition.

We would argue that many public media organizations are now ready to step into the role as anchor institutions in their local news ecosystems — providing the platform services, governance, and coordination support that their national network counterparts provide for local stations. Strong public media organizations are absolutely ready to acquire other forms of news media, as has happened in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, and elsewhere. Public media acquisitions of news media providers are one of the most exciting developments in public media in recent years and show huge promise for rebuilding local journalism. We anticipate that licensees capable of anchoring local news ecosystems will become even more critical going forward as commercial print-based local media risks disappearing altogether.

This research was made possible through the generous support of the Wyncote Foundation.

Citations:

Penny Abernathy. “The State of Local News,” Medill Local News Initiative, Northwestern University, accessed 28 Sept. 2022 at: https://localnewsinitiative.northwestern.edu/projects/state-of-local-news/

Michele McLellan, Jesse Holcomb, Emily Roseman. “Nonprofit News Fact Sheet: Local news,” Institute for Nonprofit News, accessed 28 Sept. 2022 at: https://inn.org/research-factsheet-local-news/

Emily Roseman, Michele McLellan, Jesse Holcomb. “INN Index 2022: Enduring in crisis, surging in local communities,” Institute for Nonprofit News, accessed on 28 Sept. 2022 at: https://inn.org/research/inn-index/inn-index-2022/

Our second author has published other findings from this data set in the Pew Research Center Public Broadcasting Fact Sheet. https://www.pewresearch.org/journalism/fact-sheet/public-broadcasting/

Analysis performed by Mark Fuerst in Jan. 2022 of 123 public radio licensees.

Data provided by Station Resource Group’s Public Radio Overview, Nov. 2021.

Data provided by Greater Public’s Benchmarks for Public Radio Fundraising, July 2021.

Data provided by Blackbaud’s Target Analytics, July 2021.

Data provided by Greater Public’s Building a Sustainable Major Giving Program, April 2021.

Analysis performed by Mark Fuerst in Jan. 2022 of 123 public radio licensees.

“Newsroom Investment,” Pew Research Center. Accessed 28 Sept. 2022: https://www.pewresearch.org/journalism/fact-sheet/newspapers/#newsroom-investment

Station Resource Group analysis of data provided by Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

“Newsroom Diversity Report,” Chicago Sun-Times. Accessed 29 Sept. 2022: https://chicago.suntimes.com/pages/newsroom-diversity

Betsy Berger, “Chicago Public Media Announces Its Acquisition of the Chicago Sun-Times,” WBEZ Chicago. Accessed 29 Sept. 2022: https://www.wbez.org/pressroom/chicago-public-media-announces-its-acquisition-of-the-chicago-suntimes

Data provided by NPR Audience Insights.

Data provided by Station Resource Group in November 2021.

Data provided by the Radio Research Consortium (RRC) in a fall 2021 report.

The bounce-back of listening following the pandemic slump varies by market. Persons ages 45–64 represent the largest cohort of listeners for public radio, followed by the persons 25–44 cohort.

Shared distribution technologies include Public Radio Satellite System and PRX in the case of public radio; and, for public television the Next Generation Interconnection System operated by PBS, the PBS Passport OTT broadband content distribution platform, and several independent interconnection services that provide centralized distribution functions including contracts and fees between producers and stations.

Emily Roseman, Michele McLellan, Jesse Holcomb. “INN Index 2022: Enduring in crisis, surging in local communities,” Institute for Nonprofit News, accessed on 29 Sept. 2022 at: https://inn.org/research/inn-index/inn-index-2022/

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Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism