JOB POSTING: Religion News Service Publisher/CEO

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Religion News Service Publisher/CEO

Job Description

RNS_Logo_Clr_Small copyThis is a great opportunity for an entrepreneurial executive with both vision and a disciplined approach to implementation. The right candidate will have the mindset of a digital native, who is deeply familiar with online publishing and business development. Candidates must have an extensive understanding of methods of, and tools for, publishing, online and in-person community building and engagement, and development of revenue streams for today’s news publishing.


Religion News Service (RNS) is a news site that is reinventing itself in the digital age, which makes it part of a growing field of dynamic for- and not-for-profit journalism. At the same time, it is an 80-year-old news service with a wire product that generates significant revenue. Regardless of the mechanism, its mission for eight decades has been to create and distribute across the globe exceptional and unique non-sectarian news, analysis and commentary about religion, values and ethics.

RNS wire reports are distributed to more than 170 media outlets that include a combination of mainstream media such as The Washington Post, Huffington Post, National Public Radio and Chicago Tribune, as well as religious outlets such as America Magazine, Sojourners, Christian Century, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, and Tricycle. The total circulation of these outlets far exceeds 100 million readers.

RNS is unique in its audience/community niche, in that it provides specialized, substantive news and information to the public and to key civil society actors. RNS publishes a wire report of 5-8 news stories and briefs daily during the business week and posts those reports plus original content online.

Although RNS has successfully transformed from for-profit ownership to nonprofit ownership in the last three years, it needs a strong strategic thinker who can help RNS diversify its revenue streams to include greater public donor support, more diverse foundation support, and greater business revenue via advertising and products.

This position is expanded from a part-time position. It will answer directly to the Board of Directors and will act in partnership with editorial leadership.

Key RNS Assets

  • A track record of successful, significant foundation support
  • Slow but growing subscription revenue for the first time after a 14+ year decline
  • Strong and steady press release revenue
  • Growing online traffic, which recently hit 1 million monthly page views—a key marker for greater online advertising
  • An accomplished editorial staff trusted by its readership with a reputation for independence and excellence
  • An emerging infrastructure to solicit reader donations and sponsorships
  • Has a unique product as the only non-sectarian religion news wire in the world
  • A committed and strong Board President, with a board that is invested in empowering this position
  • Good relationships with national philanthropic institutions
  • An extraordinary network of collaborating journalists, contributors and bloggers who are committed to sustaining RNS’s independent news
  • Exceptional, dedicated, hard-working and compassionate staff
  • An organizational ethos that is highly collegial and dedicated to the quality product
  • Recognition of the need for a dynamic, entrepreneurial leader who can enhance RNS’ financial stability, grow its revenue and develop innovative online news strategy

Leadership Structure

The Publisher/CEO will serve as the chief executive officer, principal fundraiser and news and business product developer for Religion News Service. The Publisher/CEO will oversee the development of business revenue and donor/foundation support such that its donor community, online revenue growth, product development and foundation grants provide more diversified support for RNS to fulfill its mission.

Although the publisher may advise on editorial products and overall editorial strategy from a business perspective, individual news judgment and editorial managerial control belongs to the Editor-in-Chief. In addition, the RNS Publisher/CEO will work closely with the Executive Director of Religion Newswriters Foundation, which serves as the nonprofit fiscal agent for Religion News Service and through which all grant revenue and donations will come.

Critical Goals for the Publisher/CEO

Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Publisher/CEO will build RNS’s readership community; boost its earned revenue; and ensure the sustainability of its enterprise. S/he is expected to accomplish the following in the first 12 months in the position:

  • Implement a business model that is sufficient to support operations and is built on diverse funding streams
  • Envision, contract for and maintain the appropriate tools and mechanisms to expand RNS’s online and social media
  • Envision, contract for and maintain the appropriate tools and mechanisms to expand RNS’s online and social media
  • Manage and advance a complex system to create synergy between published content, stakeholders and revenue streams.
  • Manage the RNS budget

Desired Skills and Experience: Qualities of the Ideal Candidate

This is an exciting opportunity for a creative and innovative leader to assist a well-respected organization with ambitious goals. While no candidate is expected to have all of the professional and personal characteristics sought in this position, the ideal Publisher will have the following qualifications:


  • Demonstrated commitment to excellence of journalism and a belief in journalism as necessary for free and open societies
  • Several years experience in digital publishing and/or community building
  • A track record of staying current with cutting-edge thinking in publishing and community building
  • A background in business development, particularly in developing advertisers, a subscriber base, donors, underwriters, and other revenue sources based on an engaged community
  • A successful record of managing small and geographically dispersed teams against measurable goals
  • Broad experience in planning and entrepreneurial experimentation
  • Demonstrated experience in creating strategic partnerships
  • Knowledge of grant-making and meaningful relationships with key media and/or religion funders
  • Proficiency in the use of Internet technology and social media
  • A bachelor’s degree is required, preferably in a relevant field


  • Visionary who is willing to take risks and continue the innovation RNS has experienced as an 80-year-old news organization
  • Energetic, collaborative, hands-on leadership style, with a proven ability to lead, mentor and motivate staff
  • Passion for the editorial mission of RNS and an ability to connect and align priorities with strategic goals and overall mission
  • Flexibility to accommodate changing priorities in a fast-paced environment
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and a management style combining respectful collaboration with disciplined productivity
  • Ability to communicate and work effectively across the organization with board members, donors, funders, subscribers, staff and other constituents
  • Integrity, wisdom, persistence and humor necessary to address the practicalities of a dynamic and small nonprofit, and the ability to support the continued growth and direction of the organization
  • Ability and willingness to travel and represent RNS
  • Ability to work from home, unless currently residing in Washington, DC (editorial office) or Columbia, MO (the RNF/administrative office) where an office is available if desired

Salary and Benefits

Salary offered is $100,000-135,000.

Application Process

Candidates should send their resumes and cover letters to RNS Board President Shona Crabtree at Deadline for applications is May 12, 2014. All applications will be kept confidential by the search committee. RNS is an equal opportunity employer.