Red & Black reporters

Red & Black reporters cover a protest at City Hall on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach)

The Red & Black Publishing Company is the first independent student news organization to be accepted as a member of the prestigious Institute for Nonprofit News

With more than 300 local, regional and national nonprofit news outlets in its membership, INN was created with the vision of building “a nonprofit news network that ensures all people in every community have access to trusted news.” The organization’s mission is “providing education and business support services to our nonprofit member organizations and promoting the value and benefit of public-service and investigative journalism.”

INN’s members include such national organizations as Science News, PolitiFact, PBS NewsHour and the Center for Public Integrity. Its state and regional members include outlets like the Texas Tribune and California Health Report. Many members are community news sources, including Georgia members Canopy Atlanta, WABE and The Atlanta Voice.

“This is a tremendous recognition of the important work that The Red & Black has done over its 129-year history as well as its ongoing evolution,” said Rebecca Burns, executive director of The Red & Black. “We are excited to work our fellow INN members as we pursue our dual missions of providing a launching pad for young journalists while delivering exceptional journalism for our community.”

The Red & Black is the first independent student news organization to be accepted for full INN membership. (Some other members are affiliated with universities or focus on providing student internships, but do not have fully student-run newsrooms.) Multiple factors led to The Red & Black’s acceptance for membership, including: a year-round publishing schedule; a track record of investigative reporting; expanded reporting on the Athens community; a commitment to retaining professional staff to mentor and train students; and financial and editorial independence from the university.

“Like all news organizations, The Red & Black is responding to the changing business environment of the news industry. Aligning with INN reflects our shift from relying mostly on a traditional advertising-based business model to a more sustainable and innovative nonprofit-news approach,” said Lance Helms, chair of The Red & Black board of directors.

Founded in 1893 as a student newspaper covering the University of Georgia, The Red & Black grew into one of the largest community news outlets in Georgia. In 1980, The Red & Black became independent of the university and incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Every year, more than 250 students participate in The Red & Black, which publishes: daily news at redandblack.com, a weekly newspaper, email newsletters, and a series of magazine-style guides. The organization also produces podcasts, videos and special events. Student managers lead the newsroom and sales teams, with the professional staff providing training and support.

The organization is overseen by an independent board of directors comprised of professionals from a range of industries and organizations, including Cox Enterprises, McClatchy, Facebook and CNN. Student representatives also serve on the board. The Red & Black receives no funding from UGA and supports itself through advertising, events and donations.

Named the nation’s best non-daily student newspaper in the 2020 Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence awards, The Red & Black also won a 2020 Pacemaker award from the Associated Collegiate Press. Considered the highest recognition for student journalism, the Pacemaker recognizes overall excellence in a student newspaper. The Red & Black won the 2021 General Excellence award from the Georgia Collegiate Press Association.

“Our independence from the University of Georgia has allowed The Red & Black to grow into a news source for both the UGA and broader Athens communities. Becoming a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News will allow us to deepen our commitment to covering stories that matter to people in Athens,” said Jacqueline GaNun, fall 2021 editor-in-chief.

Along with membership in INN, The Red & Black was accepted into the annual NewsMatch program, the largest grassroots campaign to support nonprofit news in the United States. Since its 2016 founding, NewsMatch has helped raise over $150 million “to jumpstart emerging newsrooms and support independent media outlets that produce fact-based, nonpartisan news and information.” Under the program, participating organizations, which must be INN members, receive matching donations through national and local philanthropic supporters. NewsMatch takes place annually in November and December.

“Membership in INN and participation in NewsMatch will be game-changing for The Red & Black,” said Helms. “They will provide us with partnership and knowledge as we continue to strengthen our financial position for the long term.”

In addition to benefiting from these new affiliations, The Red & Black will give back, Burns said. “It's obvious membership will help us, but we also are committed to supporting our fellow INN members,” she said. “We will be sharing the lessons learned by innovation in our newsroom today and through the hundreds of Red & Black alums who contribute to local, regional, national and international journalism.”


Media inquiries? Contact Rebecca Burns by email or by phone at 706-433-3000.