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$5 million allocated to revitalize local news

The national initiative has a fund of more than $500 million.

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Carnegie Corporation of New York recently announced it will join a coalition of 22 philanthropic donors as part of Press Forward, an unprecedented collaboration to strengthen communities and democracy by supporting local news.

Through a fund of more than $500 million, the Corporation will award $5 million in addition to its existing portfolio of media grants.

Dame Louise Richardson, president of the foundation, stated through a press release:

Like others across the country, we at Carnegie Corporation of New York have been greatly concerned by the growing polarization of American society and by the erosion of the forces of social cohesion.

Goals

According to the statement, Press Forward's goal is to recenter local news as a force for community cohesion, support new models and solutions that are ready to scale, and reduce inequalities in the coverage and practice of journalism.

The organization notes that since 2005, approximately 2,200 local newspapers have closed, resulting in 20% of Americans living in “news deserts” with little or no reliable coverage of important local events.

In response to this scenario, a wide range of funders designed Press Forward to deploy significant resources to support local news initiatives with a focus on greater coordination and peer-to-peer learning.

Funders aligned on a set of shared values that prioritize community needs and issues, such as ensuring news accessibility and preserving the editorial independence of news organizations.

“We believe that together these trends are undermining the strength of our democracy. By investing in local news through the Press Forward initiative, we have an extraordinary opportunity to ensure that many more communities have access to local news coverage and fact-based information about issues that affect their daily lives. In so doing, we seek to encourage unfettered civil discourse and freedom of speech, hallmarks of any vibrant democracy,” added Richardson.

History of Press Support

Since the 1960s, the Corporation has supported nonprofit public interest journalism.

Among the most notable milestones, the foundation highlights the recommendations of the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television that led to the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 and the establishment of PBS.

Additionally, the Corporation commissioned a related study that resulted in the creation of the Children's Television Workshop and the funding of Sesame Street.

It currently supports dozens of media organizations, especially publications that provide information on the foundation's program of work in democracy, education, and international peace and security.

“We have a moment to support the reimagination, revitalization, and rapid development of local news. We are prepared to support the strongest ideas and seed new ones; build powerful networks; and invest in people, organizations, and networks with substantial resources,” pointed out John Palfrey, president of the MacArthur Foundation, who helped spearhead the fund.

Strategy

Press Forward partners maintain individual grantmaking strategies and work toward shared vision and coordinated action. Each has committed to providing grants in 1 or more of these 4 areas of interest:

  1. Strengthen local newsrooms that have the trust of local communities: There is a growing movement of community-focused journalism across the nation that is shifting how the critical stories of our time are being told. We need to make bold investments in local news organizations and the networks that support and grow them
  2. Accelerate the enabling environment for news production and dissemination: We need to scale the infrastructure required to support a thriving independent local news sector, expanding shared services and tools — from legal support to membership programs.
  3. Close longstanding inequalities in journalism coverage and practice: We must move resources to newsrooms and organizations that are improving diversity of experience and thought along with the availability of accurate and responsive news and information in historically underserved communities and economically challenged news deserts.
  4. Advance public policies that expand access to local news and civic information: We need new frameworks and robust coalitions to advance policy ideas that expand access to news and information while strengthening the First Amendment and protecting the editorial independence of local journalists. Investments in nonpartisan public policy development, analysis, and advocacy are needed at the local, state, and national levels.

"Press Forward is an audacious effort to fortify a key pillar of American democracy, a healthy and independent free press. Local news provides critical information, knits communities together, and keeps public officials accountable, all of which are essential to a thriving democracy,” noted John Bridgeland, CEO of More Perfect.

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