Knight commits more than $9 million to uplift vital networks for nonprofit, for-profit, diverse local news publishers
Sept. 19, 2022 – MIAMI – The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is recommitting its investment in local news support networks that are helping hundreds of publishers work toward stronger financial sustainability. Knight is announcing continuing support of more than $9 million over three years for the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, and the Center for Community Media at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.
The investment aligns with Knight’s strategy to support informed communities through high-quality, equitable and sustainable local journalism. It also addresses Knight’s goals of boosting the power of scalable networks in local news and building local journalism’s infrastructure to help pave the road to long-term business success.
“These are networks of independent local news providers, outlets that are family owned or run by community-minded journalism entrepreneurs,” said Karen Rundlet, journalism director at Knight. “These organizations inform local audiences, Black, immigrant, and rural communities. Knight’s funding will support programs to make their businesses stronger so they have a real shot at longevity.”
An overview of the networks receiving support:
- Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) ($4.75 million): To provide training on fundraising and revenue solutions for the INN Network while building journalism collaboratives and recruiting and retaining more leaders of color. The Network has more than 400 nonprofit newsroom members, with 65% of new members focusing on local news. While other local news outlets were suffering during the pandemic, the INN Network nearly doubled, with vital coverage of COVID-19 and other health issues.
One great example of impact is the work of Memphis-based nonprofit MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, which helped the community halt an oil pipeline project that would have threatened the water supply of several neighborhoods.
“INN Network newsrooms are independent and not partisan. They deliver deep, original, fact-based reporting that helps people make informed decisions about their communities,” said Sue Cross, INN’s executive director and CEO. “Knight’s renewed support will strengthen a growing network of news organizations that are vital to a healthy democracy.”
- Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers ($2.85 million): To fund more than 100 Sustainability Audits, a comprehensive process for LION members to identify and respond constructively to roadblocks to sustainability within their organizations. LION Publishers supports more than 425 independent news publishers, for-profit and nonprofit, across the U.S. and Canada, and runs programs that offer online courses, coaching, peer learning and funding. A recent LION survey found that member publishers had a median 33% increase in revenues in 2021 vs. the previous year.
ecoRI News, a Rhode Island publisher focused on environmental issues, used data from its sustainability audit to apply for funding to support more outreach to Latino community members. This will help the publication reach a growing segment of its audience, with at least 50 Hispanic community members joining stakeholder meetings and getting compensated for their time.
“While a lot of people hear about how local news is dying, we hear a different story from our members,” said Chris Krewson, executive director of LION Publishers. “We see the field actually growing, with digital, diverse, community-focused local media on the rise. It is the present, not just the future. By serving these small, distributed, locally operated news entrepreneurs, we are helping create a more robust system to prevent news deserts from happening again.”
- Center for Community Media (CCM) at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York ($2.01 million): To expand its successful programs for publishers of color, including the Advertising Boost Initiative (ABI) in New York that led to the city spending millions of dollars in advertising with ethnic and community media. The program helped send a record $15.6 million to community media in New York in fiscal year 2021 and $25 million total in 2021–22. Knight’s investment will allow CCM to expand the ABI program beyond New York City.
CCM also connects community and immigrant media outlets to one another across the country, so that they can easily share best practices and experience the benefits of networking. This was achieved, in part, through collaborative relationships with regional partners in key locations, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, El Paso and Denver.
“This latest grant is a wonderful recognition of the impact CCM’s work has had,” said Graciela Mochkofsky, newly appointed dean of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, who served as CCM’s executive director for the past three years. “The money will help us continue the expansion of CCM, through support of its Black Media, Latino Media, Asian Media and Advertising Boost Initiative, among its other efforts.”
These grants complement Knight’s $300 million, five-year commitment to invest in new, scalable initiatives with the potential to underpin a fresh future for local news and strengthen journalism.
- Alejandro de Onís, VP/Communications and Digital Strategy, Knight Foundation, (305) 908-2688, [email protected]
- Sharene Azimi, Communications Director, Institute for Nonprofit News, 646-784-5547, [email protected]
- Chris Krewson, Executive Director, LION Publishers, (267) 670-0357, [email protected]
- Lisa Tradup Flom, General Manager, External Affairs, CUNY, (949) 887-9050, [email protected]
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
As social investors, the Knight Foundation supports democracy by funding free expression and journalism, arts and culture in community, research in areas of media and democracy, and in the success of American cities and towns where the Knight brothers once published newspapers. Learn more at kf.org and follow @knightfdn on social media.
The Institute for Nonprofit News strengthens and supports more than 400 independent news organizations in a new kind of news network: nonprofit, nonpartisan and dedicated to public service. From local news to in-depth reporting on pressing global issues, INN’s members tell stories that otherwise would go untold—connecting communities, holding the powerful accountable and strengthening democracy. INN programs help these news organizations develop revenue and business models to support strong reporting, collaborate on editorial and business innovation, share services and advance the diverse leaders who are forging a new future for news. Visit inn.org
About LION Publishers
Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers is a professional journalism association for independent news publishers. LION supports more than 425 publishers, for-profit and nonprofit, across the U.S. and Canada, and runs programs that offer online courses, small business coaching, peer learning and direct funding. Learn more at lionpublishers.com.
About the Center for Community Media
The mission of CCM is to serve news organizations that provide essential local coverage for populations whose voices and issues are underrepresented in mainstream media. The Center serves as a hub of information, resources, and training aimed at increasing the sustainability of this news media sector. CCM plays a key information and networking role, ensuring that community news outlets from across the country have access to the same research, tools, funding, and training as mainstream news outlets. Learn more here.