In the Arizona Daily Star this morning, reader advocate Debbie Kornmiller talks about a session that the newspaper had with non-profit organizations in the area on how they can get news in the paper.
She wrote: “Business Editor Tim Steller said that from the Industry News & Notes column that runs Mondays through Saturdays to the Networking and Moving Up calendars on Mondays to the rotating workplace stories on Fridays, Business is a good fit for nonprofit news.”
I’d add that non-profits should be covered like businesses. Many of them, from the local YMCA to the hospital, are competing for customers against the for-profit entities in a community, and they also have financial statements that can be reviewed. A Form 990 for a non-profit organization is available from the IRS, and a non-profit must provide a copy of the 990 to anyone who asks for it within 24 hours. The 990 has tons of great information, from salaries of executives for the non-profit to how it spent its money in the previous year. Think of a 990 as a combination of a public company’s proxy statement and a 10-K.
I had a student, Emily Steel, who interned last summer at the St. Petersburg Times. Her best story examined the salaries of the heads of the local non-profits. The story just won the Hearst Writing Contest for in-depth reporting. Frankly, it was a story that every newspaper should be writing on an annual basis. Steel will graduate in May and go intern at the Wall Street Journal.