The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has announced a commitment of $300 million over five years to strengthen journalism, with a focus on local and investigative news reporting.
Initial investments by the foundation include support for organizations working to build new business models, strengthen investigative reporting, protect press freedom, promote news literacy, and connect with audiences through civic engagement and technology. Grantees include the American Journalism Project, which will receive $20 million to help ensure the long-term sustainability of local nonprofit civic news organizations, and ProPublica, which was awarded $5 million in support of its efforts to advance partnerships with local news organizations aimed at strengthening investigative and data-driven reporting, and to expand its Local Reporting Network.
In addition, the foundation awarded $5 million to Report for America, which will use the funds to expand its efforts to place reporters in underserved local newsrooms and train the next generation of journalists; $3 million to Frontline to expand its documentaries and multimedia approach to local issues and establish up to five reporting hubs around the country; and $1.5 million to NewsMatch, a campaign launched by the foundation to boost the fundraising capacity of nonprofit newsrooms.
To help local newsrooms defend the First Amendment and hold decision makers accountable, the foundation committed $10 million to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which will use the funds to triple the number of lawyers working on local issues and expand its network of local attorneys providing pro bono legal support. The foundation also awarded $10 million to the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund, which supports the digital transformation of local news organizations, to expand the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative and establish a shared resource hub for local news outlets.
Other investments announced by the foundation include $5 million for the News Literacy Project, which provides news literacy resources for educators and librarians; $5 million to the Solutions Journalism Network, in support of its community engagement and civic dialogue model; and $2 million to Cortico, which uses machine learning to analyze online and offline community conversations as a way to help journalists better understand the audiences they serve and the issues people care about.
"Without revenue, you can't pay reporters. Without reporters, you can't develop consistently reliable news reports about what's happening in your town. Without that reliable news report, you can't figure out how to run local government. It isn't rocket science," said Knight Foundation president Alberto Ibargüen. "We're not funding one-offs. We're rebuilding a local news ecosystem, reliable and sustainable, and we're doing it in a way that anyone who cares can participate."
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