Advancing innovation and journalism excellence in local television newsrooms focus of five projects supported by $2.6 million from Knight Foundation – Knight Foundation

Advancing innovation and journalism excellence in local television newsrooms focus of five projects supported by $2.6 million from Knight Foundation

MIAMI – Feb. 8, 2018 – The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced $2.6 million in new funding to five leading organizations to help strengthen quality journalism and innovation in local television newsrooms across the country. The organizations receiving support include: Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, Emma Bowen Foundation, Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc., Radio Television News Directors Foundation, and The Carole Kneeland Project for Responsible Television Journalism.

Local broadcasters play a vital role in their communities, delivering news, investigative reporting, emergency information and human interest stories that viewers and listeners rely on to stay informed and make decisions. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center poll, a majority of U.S. adults say they rely on television as a top source of news and information. And more and more, local television news stations are expanding their digital news footprint. 

“With the changes in the media landscape, local television news is positioned to play a key role in supporting the future of informed and engaged communities,” said Jennifer Preston, vice president of journalism at Knight Foundation. “By increasing diversity and promoting innovation and investigative reporting, these projects will create a strong future for local television news.” 

These five projects will support local television news leaders looking to experiment with broadcast formats and transform their news operations in the digital age. They will support local television reporters seeking data journalism and investigative reporting skills and promote diversity in the television industry to help local television news better serve their audiences.

“Local television newsrooms still reach large audiences, have significant community influence, and continue to bring in increasing revenues,” said Karen Rundlet, Knight Foundation journalism program director. “Knight Foundation will support training initiatives, experiments and new models to advance journalistic excellence in television newsrooms, whether it be on broadcast or digital platforms.”

The projects receiving new Knight Foundation support aim to help tackle these issues. They include: 

  • Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism | $1.9 million | Twitter: @Cronkite_ASU | Phoenix: The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and AZPBS, the television station it operates, will act as an innovation hub to reimagine local television news. Faculty and students will collaborate with journalists and executives from commercial and public television stations to test new digital tools and storytelling forms, as well as data, mobile delivery, and audience engagement methods. The innovation hub will share the most comprehensive database of local television and digital news innovation taking place in the industry. The school will also host an annual convening for journalists producing innovative work in television and online video. It will partner with professional journalism organizations to host smaller meetings throughout the year.
  • Emma Bowen Foundation | $250,000 | Twitter: @EmmaLBowenFdn | New York: Diversity and inclusion in newsroom leadership and staff are essential to guaranteeing accuracy in journalism. The Emma Bowen Foundation was founded in 1989 to diversify the news and media industries by giving promising students of color the opportunity to intern at leading U.S. media companies. Knight funding will be used to identify local television partners in cities where Knight invests – such as Detroit; Macon, Georgia; and Charlotte, North Carolina – and recruit 20 college students of color to work on journalism or media innovation during multiyear paid internships. The fellow resumes will then be entered in a “candidates for hire” bank aimed at further career development. Fellows will also be introduced to senior executives who might serve as career mentors and sponsors.
  • Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc. | $390,000 | Twitter: @IRE_NICAR | Columbia, Missouri: Investigative Reporters and Editors will build a network of local television journalists committed to producing watchdog journalism, through regional workshops, data bootcamp trainings, and a new digital TV Watchdog Network. It will increase training around investigative, data, and accountability reporting with an emphasis on using public records and data. Nine regional workshops will be hosted over the three-year funding period. In addition, six TV journalists each year will be selected to attend an intensive weeklong data bootcamp at the University of Missouri. These fellows will receive 20 hours of data services, such as analysis and visualization, to help them apply their new skills; they will also attend the national NICAR conference. IRE will further create a TV watchdog portal, featuring digital tools, success stories and other materials. Professional development resources for TV journalists, including webinars, podcasts and short video tutorials, will help them further update their skills.
  • Radio Television News Directors Foundation| $55,000 | Twitter: @RTDNA | Washington, D.C.: The Radio Television Digital News Association will design a new training conference that promotes the First Amendment, high quality reporting, and innovation in the broadcast and digital news industry. The annual conference will offer skills training and knowledge sharing around these topics and others, such as audience engagement, data, virtual reality, and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.The association will further collaborate with television journalists in local communities around innovation, diversity and inclusion, and new methods to strengthen high quality reporting.
  • The Carole Kneeland Project for Responsible Television Journalism | $50,000 | Austin, Texas: The Kneeland Project will convene and train broadcast and digital newsrooms leadership on topics including: community engagement, ethics, and digital strategy. It will specifically engage local news directors from geographically diverse markets for these trainings so they may better recognize opportunities and address challenges in their newsrooms. Newsroom leadership will further benefit from continuing education and ongoing support to ensure the development of stronger and more ethical teams of television journalists, both broadcast and digital, in markets large and small across the U.S.

Support for these projects is part of Knight’s efforts to promote digital transformation and innovation in journalism to meet local information needs. Knight has made many investments in this area, including support to the National Association of Broadcasters and the establishment of the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative which brings together respected news organizations to act as testing grounds for new mobile and digital practices.

Contact: Rosemary D’Amour, Digital Communications Officer, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2623, [email protected]

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit