The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, has announced grants totaling $4.8 million over three years to the School of Media and Communication at Temple University to accelerate the shift to digital at news organizations across the country.
Grants of $3.3 million from Knight and $1.5 million from Lenfest will enable the university to expand the Knight-Temple Table Stakes project, which was launched in October 2015 to help metropolitan daily news organizations accelerate their transition from print to digital and evolve their practices so as to reach new audiences and better engage readers and their communities. Through the project, more than fifty leaders from the Dallas Morning News, the Miami Herald, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and the Philadelphia Media Network, which owns the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, spent a year focused on creating plans to advance their digital transformations.
The new funding will be used to expand the project, to be renamed the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative, to twelve additional newsrooms, including the Seattle Times, Bay Area News Group (Digital First Media), Houston Chronicle (Hearst), and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Gannett).
The second phase of the initiative also will include a collaboration with the Center for Innovation & Sustainability in Local Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Media and Journalism, leveraging grants awarded in 2015 of $3 million from Knight and $1 million from the UNC Office of the Provost. Working with project leadership, the center will work to develop an approach to lesson dissemination focused on local and regional news organizations. To that end, it will work with eight to twelve media organizations in North Carolina, including newspapers, radio and television stations, and digital startups, to create a network of sustainable news outlets that can tackle and surmount digital-age challenges. In addition, the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, will receive $880,000 in support of its efforts to assist newsrooms across the country with their digital and cultural transformations.
"We are honored and delighted by the new Knight-Lenfest partnership. The newsroom initiative has enjoyed impressive and measurable success in helping transform the news business in Philadelphia, Dallas, Minneapolis, and Miami," said Lenfest Institute executive and CEO Jim Friedlich. "Never have the stakes for local news been higher, or the need for greater investment and expertise more apparent."