Staying Afloat While Stirring the Pot: Briarpatch Magazine and the Challenge of Nonprofit Journalism

Patricia W. Elliott

Abstract


Briarpatch Magazine’s four-decade history presents an enlightening case study of the value of government grants to the nonprofit and co-operative media sector, as well as the pressures these programs bring, from conflict over editorial content to unexpected funding cuts. The study reveals that a major challenge for journalism operating within the social economy is to maintain editorial independence while sustaining daily operations. Briarpatch has benefited from healthy reader support and organizational flexibility. However, this resiliency is now threatened as allied civil society networks dissipate under neoliberalism. The lessons gleaned from Briarpatch are broadly relevant to social-economy researchers and advocates, as they speak to wider questions of funder-nonprofit relationships and the role that social networks play in organizational sustainability.

RÉSUMÉ

Les quatre décennies d’histoire du magazine Briarpatch représentent une étude de cas éclairante sur la valeur des octrois gouvernementaux pour le secteur des médias coopératifs et à but non lucratif, ainsi que sur les pressions entraînées par ces programmes, allant de conflits au sujet du contenu éditorial jusqu’aux coupures budgétaires imprévues. Cette étude montre qu’un défi majeur pour le journalisme de l’économie sociale consiste à conserver son indépendance éditoriale tout en assurant son bon fonctionnement au quotidien. Briarpatch bénéficie d’un appui solide de la part de ses lecteurs et d’une bonne flexibilité organisationnelle. Cependant, cette faculté d’adaptation est actuellement menacée par un néolibéralisme qui dissipe les alliances de la société civile. Les leçons à tirer de Briarpatch sont pertinentes pour les chercheurs et partisans de l’économie sociale car elles soulèvent des questions de rapports entre investisseurs et organismes à but non lucratif et de rôles joués par les réseaux sociaux pour maintenir la durabilité organisationnelle.


Keywords


Third-sector media; Nonprofit media; Magazines; Grants; Fundraising; Social economy / Média du troisième secteur; Média à but non lucratif; Magazine; Octroi; Levée de fonds; Économie sociale

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22230/cjnser.2015v6n2a210

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