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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 10 percent of the site’s revenues come from advertising, with the majority coming from individual donations, foundations (including the Knight Foundation) and Woolley’s funding. 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 from memberships. 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:
Groupon (a play on “group coupon”) is a company that offers high-discount coupons to people in a particular geographic area — typically to local companies like restaurants, dry cleaners, clothing stores, or salons. The coupon becomes valid only if a predetermined number of people purchase it on a given day. Groupon has been lauded for…