National donor coalition catalyzes local news and information for stronger communities
September 7, 2023 – A coalition of 22 donors today announced Press Forward, a national initiative to strengthen communities and democracy by supporting local news and information with an infusion of more than half a billion dollars over of the next five years. Press Forward will enhance local journalism to an unprecedented level to refocus local news as a force for community cohesion; support new models and solutions ready to evolve; and end long-standing inequalities in media coverage and journalism practice.
Since 2005, approximately 2,200 local newspapers have closed, leaving 20 percent of Americans living in “news deserts,” with little or no reliable coverage of important local events. Press Forward seeks to reverse the dramatic decline of local news that has coincided with an increasingly divided America and weakening trust in institutions.
National, regional, local and issue-specific funders co-designed Press Forward with the goal of deploying significant new resources to the field through better coordination and peer-to-peer learning. Informed by insights and feedback from leaders and practitioners in the field, this multi-funder collaboration aligned with a set of shared values to guide their grantmaking: prioritizing transformation, centering community needs, grow with equity, ensure accessibility, and preserve the editorial independence of news-gathering organizations.
Press Forward’s initial partners include the Archewell Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln, Democracy Fund, Ford Foundation, Mary W. Graham, Glen Nelson Center at American Public Media Group, the Heising-Simons Foundation, Henry Luce. Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Joyce Foundation, KFF, Knight Foundation, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, Lumina Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Outrider Foundation, Rita Allen Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Skyline Foundation and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
“We have a moment to support the reimagining, revitalization and rapid development of local news. We are ready to support the strongest ideas and launch new ones; build powerful networks; and invest in people, organizations and networks with substantial resources,” said John Palfrey, president of the MacArthur Foundation. “The philanthropic sector recognizes the need to strengthen American democracy and is beginning to understand that progress in everything else, from education and health care to criminal justice reform and climate change, depends on understanding the made by the public. »
Although philanthropic support for journalism has increased over the past decade, donations to local news remain below what is needed. Press Forward partners are ready to move from individual grantmaking strategies to a shared vision and coordinated action that ensures individuals are informed and engaged on the issues that affect their daily lives.
Press Forward partners have identified the following priorities and committed to providing grants in one or more of these four focus areas:
- 1. Strengthen local newsrooms that are trusted by local communities: There is a growing community journalism movement across the country that is changing the way the critical stories of our time are told. We need to make bold investments in local news organizations and the networks that support and grow them.
- 2. Accelerate the creation of an environment conducive to the production and dissemination of information: we must evolve the infrastructure necessary to support an independent and thriving local information sector, by expanding services and tools shared services, from legal support to membership programs.
- 3. Reduce long-standing inequities in journalism coverage and practice: We must shift resources to newsrooms and organizations that improve the diversity of experiences and thoughts and the availability of accurate, responsive information in historically underserved communities and economically challenged information deserts.
- 4. Advance public policies that expand access to local news and civic information: We need new frameworks and strong coalitions to advance policy ideas that expand access to news and information while strengthening the First Amendment and protecting the editorial independence of local journalists. Investments in nonpartisan public policy development, analysis, and advocacy are needed at the local, state, and national levels.
Press Forward is independent of any ideology and plans to work with More perfecta bipartisan initiative that advances five interrelated democratic goals, one of which is Access to reliable news and information.
“Press Forward is a bold effort to strengthen a key pillar of American democracy, a free, healthy and independent press,” said John Bridgeland, CEO of More Perfect. “Local news provides crucial information, unites communities and holds public officials accountable, which is essential to a thriving democracy. »
The Miami Foundation will serve as a fiscal sponsor for Press Forward, manage a pooled fund, and coordinate the awarding of aligned grants on behalf of participating funders. He will hire a small team who will focus on developing and supporting donor engagement and learning and help advance the initiative’s goals.
Some donors are expected to award exemplary grants before the end of the year; most will begin making grants in 2024. Donors will make grants from the pooled fund in 2024. Organizations interested in Press Forward can sign up to receive updates to learn more about grant applications future. Press Forward welcomes and continues to invite additional funders to improve nonprofit, public and for-profit news and information.
The Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to combat inequality and build a future based on justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the front lines of social change around the world, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human success. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has its headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
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