Knight Foundation Strategy Evolving in an 'Age of Disruption'

The John S. and James. L. Knight Foundation has issued a revised Statement of Strategy that outlines the foundation's core beliefs and a vision for its grantmaking in a rapidly changing world.

In an "age of disruption" in which "technology has disrupted journalism's traditions and institutions, fact-based reporting now competes with false information, and citizens have become both more connected by technology and more divided by ideology and income," the statement emphasizes that the foundation continues to be guided by the core beliefs that have informed its work for decades: freedom of expression and the values expressed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; the importance of an informed citizenry and the critical role of journalism in the democratic process; and equitable, inclusive, and participatory communities. In seeking to create a better world, the statement continues, the foundation is guided by half a dozen principles. They include seeking out ideas, leaders, and initiatives with the potential to create impact, as well as opportunities to improve or advance informed and engaged communities; investing in promising new solutions and technologies; understanding and sharing insights from its gratmaking; and working toward a more equitable society that is inclusive and provides opportunity for all.

Developed during a process initiated in late 2015 that sought to examine the forces that would affect the foundation and its communities over the next decade, the statement articulates a vision for the foundation's grantmaking that seeks be responsive to "a dynamic context." To that end, the Knight journalism program will seek to address the intensifying challenges to First Amendment protections while working to promote journalistic excellence; the community and national initiatives program will support ideas that nurture talented people, enhance opportunity, and foster civic engagement in the twenty-six communities where the Knight brothers once published newspapers; and the arts program will support artistic excellence, authenticity and inclusion, as well as technological innovation in the arts. In addition, the foundation's newly renamed technology innovation program (previously called the media innovation program) will work across all the foundation's grantmaking and social investment programs to identify cross-cutting issues and support experiments in the use of digital media and technology to better inform communities and citizens.

The foundation's strategy is "not cast in stone," the statement notes. "Like the Knight brothers, we believe their foundation should evolve with time, society, and technology, while always focusing on ways to make relevant their passion for informing and engaging communities."

As part of its program to strengthen the accountability role of fact-based reporting and quality journalism, the foundation also has launched the Knight News Match, which will support nonprofit newsrooms with matching grants up to a total of $1.5 million through January 19, 2017. Through the initiative, fifty-seven nonprofit journalism organizations — including Reveal (the Center for Investigative Reporting), Inside Climate News, the Institute for Nonprofit News, the Marshall Project, Rocky Mountain PBS, and the Texas Tribune — will be eligible for up to $25,000 each to match donations from individuals.

"Journalism is facing many challenges. At the same time, the desire for quality journalism and in-depth reporting is clear, as more and more people turn to nonprofit outlets for information they can trust," said Jennifer Preston, the foundation's vice president for journalism. "With this effort, we are hoping to drive awareness and expand the donor base for nonprofit news organizations, big and small, that are producing journalism in the public interest. To continue their work, these news organizations need a passionate, dedicated community of supporters."

For a complete list of nonprofit news organizations eligible for matching funds through the Knight News Match, see the Knight Foundation website.

"Knight News Match to Provide $1.5 Million in Matching Grants to Nonprofit News Organizations." John S. and James. L. Knight Foundation Press Release 12/19/2016. "Statement of Strategy." John S. and James. L. Knight Foundation Statement 12/16/2016. Alberto Ibargüen. "Thriving in the Gray: How Knight Foundation's Strategy Is Evolving in the Age of Disruption." John S. and James. L. Knight Foundation Essay 12/16/2016.