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Voice of San Diego is a nonprofit online news organization that focuses on in-depth and investigative reporting on civic issues.
The site was founded in 2005 by venture capitalist Buzz Woolley and veteran San Diego journalist Neil Morgan, funded by $355,000 of Woolley’s own money as a way to fill what they saw a gap in local government reporting.
Its annual budget is about $1 million, and it has about 10 newsroom employees, though it laid off four employees in December 2011. About 12 percent of the site’s revenues as of 2014 came from community and corporate sponsorships, with 45 percent coming from major donors such as Woolley, 28 percent from foundations (including the Knight Foundation), and 15 percent from individual donors through a membership program. As of September 2009, Woolley had provided the site with $1.3 million of the total $3.5 million in donations over five years. Voice of San Diego also makes some money from syndicating its content and is seeking to grow its membership model. In 2014, it received a $1.2 million joint grant with MinnPost from the Knight Foundation to improve attraction and retention of members.
Voice of San Diego has a relatively modest but steadily growing web audience, with just fewer than 100,000 unique visitors per month as of late 2009. The organization has won numerous journalism awards, and its investigations have forced several city leaders to step down.
The site was founded on the principle of civic engagement, and it has worked to encourage online discussion, making civic participation half of its two-part mission and hiring its first engagement editor in 2010.
It launched a redesign in 2013 with an emphasis on multi-story narratives and social interaction among users.
Voice of San Diego’s Scott Lewis talks about the value of explainers:
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is a national foundation that funds a variety of causes, including journalism projects and organizations. The foundation was founded in 1950 by the Knight brothers, who owned the Ohio-based Knight Newspapers, which later became Knight Ridder. Since 1950, the foundation has invested nearly $400 million in journalism…