A project of Democracy Fund

March 29, 2017

Join Us in Expanding Support for Local News


A participant at a local news workshop in New Orleans sponsored by Democracy Fund. Photo by Claire Bangser/Roots and Wings Creative

Democracy Fund has been spending the past year learning from and listening to local journalists, civic leaders, and foundations. A participant at a small collaborative workshop in New Orleans takes part in that process. Photo by Claire Bangser/Roots and Wings Creative

We are at a pivotal moment for local news ecosystems. Alongside an accelerating erosion of journalism’s traditional business model, journalists are facing unprecedented attacks, legal tests, and a lack of trust from all sides. While some newsrooms have seen a spike in donations and subscriptions in response to this moment, there are still a huge number of important niche and local newsrooms that are facing profound challenges.

At Democracy Fund, we believe these local newsrooms are vital to ensuring communities have access to the information they need to participate in civic life, and that a healthy democracy requires a robust, free, and independent press. That is why, this week, we announced we are committing $1 million towards a state and local investigative reporting fund, and invite other foundations to join us in expanding support for local news.

Building on the success of the Knight News Match, the goal of the fund is to serve as a beacon and a guide for those who want to support local and state news, investigative beats, and nonprofit news. More information will be made available in the coming months here on the Local News Lab.

This fund builds on Democracy Fund’s ongoing commitment to transforming local journalism, striving towards audience-centered, trusted, and resilient news ecosystems. Over the past year, we’ve been spending time in communities across the country learning from and listening to local journalists, civic leaders, and foundations. Those conversations are helping us shape our approach to supporting these ecosystems in ways that are deeply driven by leaders on the ground.

We believe that healthy news ecosystems are diverse, interconnected, resilient, and sustainable. They are deeply engaged with their communities. Supporting and strengthening these ecosystems requires strategies that ensure the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. As we continue with our ongoing commitments and strategies, this new fund, along with other projects announced this week, including a commitment to investigative reporting with our partners at First Look Media, and support for a new laboratory for community supported investigative news at New York University, will provide an infusion of energy and attention to the good work happening in local news at this critical moment.

If you have questions, or are interested in learning more about how to be involved, please send us an email us localnewslab@democracyfund.org

Read more about our grants announced this week, and Democracy Fund’s current grantees at DemocracyFund.org.