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A new study by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign shows that nonprofit news operations, like The Clayton Crescent, “may be an important safeguard for keeping public officials accountable,” according to the Institute for Nonprofit News.

In a pre-review report, Associate Professor of Journalism Dr. Nikki Usher wrote, “Having an INN member in a judicial district makes a difference—and is positively associated with prosecutions for public corruption.”

Usher and political scientist Dr. Sanghoon Kim-Leffingwell did the study. They looked at the relationship between staff and circulation cutbacks at local newspapers and drops in public corruption prosecutions. Then they checked to see whether having a nonprofit newsroom in the area meant more federal prosecutions for public corruption.

“Our findings suggest nonprofit interventions in failing local commercial news markets may be an important safeguard for keeping public officials accountable,” Usher wrote.

She added that philanthropic funding—grantmaking—is “positively associated with prosecutions for public corruption.”

In other words, when donors support nonprofit news, the study indicates that corrupt government officials are more likely to be held accountable.

The mission of the Institute for Nonprofit News is “to build a nonprofit news network that ensures all people in every community have access to trusted news. To that end, we pursue our mission of providing education and business support services to our nonprofit member organizations and promoting the value and benefit of public-service and investigative journalism.”

More than 360 nonprofit newsrooms nationwide, including The Clayton Crescent, provide public service reporting in communities that otherwise would be news deserts.

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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