Journalism funded by philanthropy represents a burgeoning opportunity for many local media companies. Yet the path to unlocking this potential stream of funding isn’t always easy to navigate or access. That’s why the Local Media Association is launching the Center for Journalism Funding, with financial support from the Google News Initiative
The Center for Journalism Funding aims to strengthen the understanding and capabilities of local news organizations regarding fundraising programs and working with philanthropic organizations to support journalism projects. Many local news organizations, in particular those owned by and/or serving people of color, struggle with the complexities of journalism funded by philanthropy.
“We believe this is an essential strategy for most local media companies, and for newspapers in particular, it serves as a great complement to reader revenue initiatives,” said Nancy Lane, CEO, Local Media Association. “When we see newsrooms with 10 or more reporters being funded by philanthropy, that gets our attention. We’re inspired by the work going on in Seattle, Fresno, Miami, Dallas and more, and believe the Center for Journalism Funding can help many others develop winning strategies along the same lines.”
“A diversity of approaches is essential in rethinking the financing of local journalism and key to building news outlets than can connect citizens all dimensions of their communities,” said Richard Gingras, VP of News, Google “The GNI is delighted to be part of the LMA’s work with the Center for Journalism Funding and the role that philanthropic funding can play in supporting the future of local news.”
Applications for a funding lab will open in early August. Fifteen publishers will be selected to participate in a six-month program. The cohort will include a diverse mix of newspapers, broadcasters and digital news sites. LMA is in the process of recruiting a managing director to run the Center and lab, and subject-matter experts will serve as coaches. The lab has two goals: drive at least $2.25 million in funding for journalism projects for the 15 publishers combined, and publish an extensive industry playbook on funding journalism through philanthropy.
Philanthropic support for journalism was identified by the LMA’s Accelerate Local as one of the biggest opportunities for local news and one of its three core pillars for 2020 in helping newsrooms grow their business.
The Center for Journalism Funding will build on other efforts to provide funding to an industry challenged by a major drop in advertising caused by the coronavirus. Already this year, Local Media Foundation launched the COVID-19 Local News Fund, which helped more than 225 publishers raise $1.6 million to support their coverage of the pandemic. Other funds have also been announced, including The Fund for Black Journalism, which seeks $25 million to reimagine the Black press, and the Fund for Local Journalism, which seeks to raise $10 million over three years to fund 1,000 local investigative reporting projects.
LMA’s work in this area started in early 2019 and was fast-tracked in the fall, when LMA was awarded $300,000 from GNI’s Innovation Challenge to create NewsFuel, a platform that matches funders with journalism projects. The platform is set to launch in beta mode in August, in conjunction with the first call for grant applications from the Fund for Local Journalism.
More information will be coming soon. Inquiries for the Center for Journalism Funding may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.