The goal behind the funding is to “foster innovation in journalism, community engagement, technology and business models," according to a press release.
The two Philadelphia-based, nonprofit organizations are each putting $10 million into the joint fund, hoping to lift the country’s endangered metro newspapers.
“This initiative focuses resources on the people and projects driving transformational change in Philadelphia and around the country,” stated Jim Friedlich, executive director of The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. “By strengthening local news, with a focus on high-impact journalism, civic engagement, digital transformation and the needs of diverse audiences, we can build a sustainable future for local journalism, one community at a time.”
The Knight Foundation and Lenfest Institute are encouraging other foundations and participants to contribute to the initiative. At least four organizations will join them through 2024.
According to Nieman Lab, which first reported the news, the initiative is part of a project called “Table Stakes,” launched in 2015 by Knight and Temple University. It brought together four metro newspapers to discuss the digital transition process.
Lenfest was founded in 2016 and began supporting the rebranded “Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative” in February 2017. It expanded to 12 newsrooms.
This new funding will focus on three main objectives: support a technology resource hub where local newsrooms can share information on data journalism, news analytics, audience engagement, revenue models and product development; support leadership training in local news; and test new ideas and improve diverse media in Philadelphia.
Other organizations are trying to help buoy local news in a difficult environment for smaller publishers (according to a recent study, local newspaper circulation decreased by 27% and the presence of statehouse reporters decreased by 35% from 2003 to 2014).
This is the second year Facebook has invested in the NewsMatch campaign, which pools funds from local and national funders — including the Knight Foundation, Democracy Fund, Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation — to match donations to nonprofit newsrooms nationwide.
Last year, NewsMatch raised over $4.8 million in three months.