NBC Local expands nonprofit strategy

Network seeks partners to up local coverage

NBC Local Media is seeking help from an unlikely source: not-for-profit journalism centers.

Citing a successful partnership between Peacock O&O KNSD in San Diego and local nonprofit news website voiceofsandiego.org, the net sent out a call Monday morning soliciting local partners to contribute reporting to more O&Os.

The network is looking to beef up local coverage with nonprofit partners at its O&Os in markets including Gotham, L.A., Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Washington, D.C., and Hartford-New Haven, CT.

NBC says it is seeking online orgs that have demonstrated editorial independence and newsgathering chops, as well as a range of viewpoints for diverse auds.

A source close to the deal says that Comcast’s desire to increase local engagement with viewers was part of the impetus for the new initiative, and that the idea of pairing the conglom’s O&Os with nonprofit local news orgs got positive feedback from the Federal Communications Commission during its merger with NBC.

“NBC San Diego has been an exceptional partner, not just because of what it’s done to increase our organization’s reach and whatnot, but because it’s been so open-minded,” said voiceofsandiego.org’s Scott Lewis. “San Diego Fact Check,” “Behind the Scene” and “San Diego Explained” are regular segs co-produced by both orgs.

Nonprofit partnerships with corporate news orgs can result in better coverage, but they are at times controversial. ABC News’ partnership with the Gates Foundation on a series of international health stories drew fire for effectively partnering a charity with a multibillion-dollar corporation that wasn’t short on cash. As division budgets drop, however, calls for partnerships are likely to go out from other orgs, as well.