NEW YORK — Given the dramatic downsizing in local journalism, efforts are sprouting to match re­porters with towns and topics left uncovered. Time will tell if they are the first signs of a turnaround, or fingers in the dike.

Among prominent donors for journalism proj­ects in recent months are the Knight Foundation, Face­book and Craig New­mark, who made his for­tune founding Craig’s List.

American Journalism Project

This so-called “venture philanthropy” organization was founded by two people who have successfully launched online news prod­ucts: John Thornton of the Texas Tribune and Eliz­abeth Green of “Chalk­beat.” The idea is to find crea­tive ways to raise money on the national and local levels to fund jour­nalism. It recently an­nounced that it had $42 mil­lion in funding com­mit­ments.

Report for America

This organization sees itself as a Peace Corps for jour­nalists and has begun de­ploy­ing young reporters into local communities. It has sent reporters to Mississippi Today to re­port on criminal justice and the environment, to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to cover the state capital for The Incline and to Victoria, Texas, to write stories for the Victoria Advocate on the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. It has relationships with newsrooms across the country, including The Associated Press.

Initially, the organization pays for half of a reporter’s salary, with the other half split between a local news organization and local donor. One of its goals is to wean the journalist off a national funding source.


The online investigative journalism web site has a local journalism proj­ect, where it has con­nect­ed reporters in 14 news or­gan­izations across the coun­try with a Pro­Pub­lica editor to work on var­i­ous stories. Among the par­tic­ipating news or­gan­izations this year are the An­­chorage Daily News in Alaska, the Gazette in Charles­ton, West Virginia, and the Louisville Courier-Journal.


The award-winning PBS documentary series an­nounced this past month its first foray into local news. Through a grant by the Knight Foundation, “Front­line” will hire five jour­nalists in newsrooms across the country and an editor to oversee their work on stories about a pre-selected series of topics. The journalism they pro­duce will be provided to local news organizations.

Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative

The journalism phil­an­thro­pists Knight Foun­da­tion and the Lenfest In­stit­ute for Journalism have been teaming up to provide money for newsrooms, pri­marily in big cities, to hasten their transition from print to digital prod­ucts.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.