A Pledge in Support of Local News

Filed under Journalism

The newly launched American Journalism Project will support existing and emerging local news organizations.

In a major move aimed at strengthening local news operations, rebuilding national trust in the news media, and preserving a crucial institution of democracy, a newly formed philanthropic organization announced this week that it is launching with $42 million in funding that will support local journalism.

The American Journalism Project, founded by Elizabeth Green (founder of the education news nonprofit Chalkbeat) and John Thornton (founder of the nonprofit Texas Tribune), will tap into a network of foundations, individual donors, and other funders to support existing and new civic news organizations. The AJP plans to not only provide funding, but also to help identify and scale promising new business models and best practices. Newsrooms will work to transition from primarily grant-funded to integrated nonprofit organizations. “Plenty of journalists are ready to take on this challenge by developing new business models in the public interest,” Green said in a release. “What’s been missing is the philanthropic capital to truly support them.”

Local news keeps us informed and strengthens civic engagement. Without it, a community loses its voice, news deserts emerge, and partisan echo chambers fill the void.

Peter Lattman, Emerson Collective

The AJP’s initial fund is targeted at $50 million and will support 35 local news organizations. The project is backed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Arnold Ventures, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Facebook Journalism Project, the philanthropist Christopher Buck, and Emerson Collective. “Local news keeps us informed and strengthens civic engagement,” says Peter Lattman, managing director of media at Emerson Collective. “Without it, a community loses its voice, news deserts emerge, and partisan echo chambers fill the void. We need reporters to serve as watchdogs over government and industry, to give citizens access to the information they need to hold elected officials accountable. We hope that this is just the start, and that AJP will help galvanize support for nonprofit news organizations in local communities and get more people to think of local journalism as a civic function rather than a commercial enterprise.”