Articles by

Karen Rundlet

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    Since Knight Foundation announced a $300 million initiative in February to help rebuild local news, we’ve received an exuberant response from funders, civic leaders and journalists. They, too, are seeking to bolster local reporting in their communities because they understand the important role that journalism plays in our democracy in informing communities and holding the powerful accountable.
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    Karen Rundlet is director for journalism at Knight Foundation. Below she writes about NewsMatch, the annual national matching gifts campaign for nonprofit news organizations, which is accepting donations today through Dec. 31. This is the third year for NewsMatch, the national matching-gift campaign that supports nonprofit organizations across the country. The campaign’s participants, all of them nonprofit newsrooms, produce rigorous journalism in service of the public. It is in all of our interests to support them, now more than ever. As misinformation runs rampant, and trust in media fall to all-time lows, these organizations are delivering the investigative, accountability and civic reporting that highlight pressing community issues and hold our leaders in check. While the tools of information creation and delivery have changed dramatically in the last decade, there are some constants: quality journalism remains a powerful tool for change and a free and independent press is vital to a healthy democracy.
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    If news and information are part of the fabric of democracy, then the fabric of U.S. democracy is in tatters. That’s the conclusion that leaps off the map in the 2018 The Expanding News Deserts report, which shows that 171 U.S. counties do not have a local newspaper, and nearly half all counties – 1,449 – have only one newspaper, usually a weekly.The report by Penelope Muse Abernathy, Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina, shines the light on a silent phenomenon, the disappearance of 1,800 newspapers since 2004, and drop by half of the number of reporters covering local news. 
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    As Knight Foundation continues to study television news, its role in informing communities, and possibilities for the future, we are also examining data around television audiences. While most people in the U.S. still get their news from TV, the picture is not all rosy. New Knight research published today shows that the TV audience is largely 55+ years, and shrinking, albeit slowly, as more Americans get their news from social media and smartphones. In 2017, the Pew Research Center reported digital news had come even closer to eclipsing TV’s dominance as a news provider. The number of Americans who now get their news online stands at 43 percent, which is just 7 percentage points away from the half of Americans who get their news from broadcast television.
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    At a time when there is growing concern about fake news and citizens living in their own echo chambers, people are searching for trusted journalism outlets to provide answers and context. Quality journalism matters more than ever. The Knight News Match was born with this in mind. Launched on Monday, the initiative, which allows individuals to double their impact to nonprofit news organizations, is showing strong early results, providing nonprofit news organizations with the funding they need.