Knight Foundation announces new support to help newsrooms strengthen digital platforms – Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation announces new support to help newsrooms strengthen digital platforms

Twenty-six newsrooms will receive $20,000 grants to deploy the publishing solution of their choice, in second year of Knight initiative

MIAMI — June 30, 2021 — The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced the second set of recipients from its $2 million, three-year initiative to strengthen digital publishing solutions in newsrooms. 

This year, 26 newsrooms will receive $20,000 one-time grants to adopt, manage or upgrade the digital publishing solution of their choice. Knight support will help these newsrooms utilize tools that prioritize and enhance audience and business development, editorial content production, revenue streams and modes for membership and audience engagement. 

“This year, we’ve seen the power newsrooms can have when they have the right digital tools,” said Paul Cheung, Knight Foundation director for journalism and technology innovation. “We’re proud to support these news organizations and their efforts to level up their work, reach more subscribers and continue to build informed and engaged communities.”

As in the first year of the initiative, the 26 selected newsrooms include a mix of nonprofit news organizations, small commercial community newspapers and new digital upstarts. Of the selected newsrooms, 42% are nonprofit organizations; 42% are led by or serve communities of color; and 61% are committed to delivering local journalism

Selected newsrooms may use Knight funding to employ new digital tools by changing their content management systems, making upgrades to their existing publishing systems, or hiring support to maximize the use of the systems they have in place. 

  • Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, Phoenix, Ariz. (Newspack)
    The Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting is an independent, nonpartisan and collaborative nonprofit newsroom dedicated to statewide, data-driven investigative reporting. AZCIR will use Knight support to optimize the website user experiences for readers, subscribers and donors, and partner newsrooms, as well as cultivating and expanding their members and donors.
  • Black Voice News, Riverside, Calif. (Newspack)
    The 49-year-old Black Voice News shines a light on systemic inequities and disparities through solutions-oriented, data-driven journalism empowering informed action in California. Black Voice News will use Knight support to optimize its Newspack content integration and user experience.
  • Borderless Magazine, Chicago (WordPress)
    Borderless Magazine is a women- and BIPOC-run nonprofit news outlet reimagining immigration journalism with a lens on justice. The newsroom will use Knight support to make its website more accessible to its Spanish and Arabic-speaking audiences, grow membership and build a donor base. 
  • Charlottesville Tomorrow, Charlottesville, Va. (WordPress)
    Charlottesville Tomorrow delivers in-depth reporting and analysis to improve local decision-making in the greater Charlottesville area. The newsroom will use Knight support to advance their digital publishing platform and grow their audience, with the specific focus of reaching Black and Spanish-speaking audiences.
  • The Community Voice, Wichita, Kan. (Newspack)
    The Community Voice is a 26-year-old Kansas-based, African-American multimedia publication located in Wichita and serving the state of Kansas and the Kansas City metro area. TCV is the state’s only African-American owned and targeted newspaper. The newsroom will use Knight support to launch a new website that will be user friendly, enhance their newsletter capabilities and their market reach.
  • The Devil Strip, Akron, Ohio (Custom CMS)
    The Devil Strip is a community news cooperative collectively owned and governed by its readers and workers. The Devil Strip will use Knight support to upgrade its site for a clean, user-friendly experience that advances opportunities for reader and member engagement and makes client services easier to access.
  • El Tímpano, Oakland, Calif. (Newspack)
    El Tímpano — Spanish for “eardrum”— informs, engages and amplifies the voices of Oakland’s Latino and Mayan immigrants. The newsroom will use Knight support to design and launch a new website that can help reach new audiences and donors. 
  • Growing Community Media, Oak Park, Ill. (Newspack) 
    Growing Community Media publishes independent, hyperlocal community journalism online and in print in 9 communities on the west side of Chicago and in its near suburbs, including Austin Weekly News, Wednesday Journal, Forest Park Review and Riverside Brookfield Landmark. These four publications will use Knight support to maintain their newly-launched websites, optimize advertising and develop a website for the nonprofit ownership organization.
  • Houston Defender Network, Houston, Tex. (Newspack)
    Founded in 1930, the Houston Defender is Houston’s leading Black information source, serving Harris, Ft. Bend and Brazoria counties. The newsroom will use Knight support to streamline the redesign of its website, create targeted audience channel pages, and launch and design newsletters associated with the new channels.
  • KGNU Community Radio, Boulder, Denver and Fort Collins, Co. (Custom)
    KGNU Radio is a community-powered radio station dedicated to amplifying community, culture, and music by airing diverse voices and perspectives. We prioritize building and maintaining a robust pipeline of volunteer producers to be part of the local media landscape. KGNU will use Knight support to design and launch a new website that advances user experience, grows the station’s digital acumen, and becomes a stream of revenue.
  • The Marjorie, Gainesville, Fla. (Newspack)
    The Marjorie is a nonprofit newsroom that promotes a greater understanding of issues related to the environment, social justice and women in Florida through storytelling and community building. The newsroom will use Knight support to integrate a newsletter publisher into its content management system, understand its existing audience and build new ways for audience engagement.
  • Maryland Matters, Takoma Park, Md. (WordPress)
    Maryland Matters is the premier site for news about Maryland government and politics. The newsroom will use Knight support to boost its user experience by upgrading its content management system.
  • The Mendocino Voice, Mendocino County, Calif. (WordPress)
    The Mendocino Voice is an independent online news outlet founded in 2016 to provide useful news for all of Mendocino County, Calif. The newsroom will use Knight support to build and launch a new website that advances a better user experience and builds member and client revenue.
  • Ojai Valley News, Ojai, Calif. (Custom)
    The Ojai Valley News has been the journal of record for California’s Ojai Valley since 1891. The newsroom will use Knight support to migrate its website to a new content management system and improve its community reach and reader experience.
  • Outlier Media, Detroit (WordPress)
    Outlier Media is a Detroit-based service journalism organization that identifies, reports, and delivers valuable information to empower residents to hold landlords, municipal government and elected officials accountable for longstanding problems. The newsroom will use Knight support to build a new website that showcases multimedia stories, increasing the value of Outlier’s investigative and accountability reporting. Outlier will also integrate its SMS text message reporting service into the new website.
  • Plainsman Herald, Springfield, Co. (Newspack)
    The Plainsman Herald, established in 1887, is a rural weekly newspaper serving Baca County, Colo. and surrounding areas. The newsroom will use Knight support to build and design a new website, building a better digital product that engages the local community.
  • Prison Journalism Project (Newspack)
    Prison Journalism Project is a national, independent, nonpartisan initiative that trains incarcerated writers in the tools of journalism and helps them reach an outside audience through partnerships with media organizations. The organization will use Knight support to build a new website, build multimedia content and reach new donors.
  • QCity Metro, Charlotte, NC (WordPress)
    Founded in 2008, QCity Metro provides news and information relevant to Black communities in Charlotte, NC. It was among the nation’s first digital-only platforms created to serve a local, Black audience. The newsroom will use Knight support to add a resource and lifestyle portal to its existing WordPress site, create a variety of directories, guides and interactive maps themed for Charlotte’s Black communities, and drive initial engagement and new streams of revenue.
  • The Rafu Shimpo, Los Angeles (Newspack)
    Established in 1903, The Rafu Shimpo is a bilingual Japanese-English language newspaper, and the longest running Japanese American daily newspaper in the United States. The newsroom will use Knight support for the launch of a new website that also allows readers to purchase print and digital subscriptions, make donations and sign-up for newsletters.
  • Southerly, Louisville, Ken. (Newspack)
    Southerly is an independent, nonprofit media organization that covers the intersection of ecology, justice, and culture in the American South. Through partnerships with local newsrooms across the region, they produce stories aimed at rural, BIPOC, and low-wealth audiences, and collaborate with non-journalism organizations to ensure information is accessible and useful. The organization will use Knight support to redesign and launch a new site that highlights membership and partnership opportunities and reaches new audiences.
  • Spotlight PA, Harrisburg, Pa. (Almanack)
    Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan newsroom dedicated to producing investigative journalism about the Pennsylvania state government and urgent statewide issues. The newsroom will use Knight support to streamline its content management system, advance the sharing and distribution of content, and increase its revenue streams.
  • The Sacramento Observer, Sacramento, Calif. (Newspack)
    Established in 1962, the Sacramento Observer Newspaper is the legacy Black newspaper in Sacramento, California. The newsroom will use Knight support to optimize its content management system and use of images and other digital assets across the platform.
  • Truthout, Sacramento, Calif. (WordPress)
    Truthout is a nonprofit news organization dedicated to providing independent reporting and commentary on a diverse range of social justice issues. The newsroom will use Knight support to improve its user experience, support its donor pipeline, analyze reader engagement and build revenue.
  • Voice of San Diego, San Diego, Calif. (WordPress)
    Voice of San Diego delivers ground-breaking investigative journalism for the San Diego region. The publication will use Knight support to rebuild its existing Salesforce plugin and increase reader conversions from its newsletter.
  • Washington City Paper, Washington DC (Newspack)
    Since 1981, Washington City Paper has served the growing community of Washington DC. The newspaper will use Knight support to streamline the workflow for building its print editions, improve its events listing tool and add in the capability to export content into a ready-to-print format. 
  • Wisconsin Watch, Madison, Wisc. (Newspack)
    The nonpartisan, nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism increases the quality and quantity of investigative reporting in Wisconsin while training current and future investigative journalists. The newsroom will use Knight support to manage and take full advantage of the audience, donor growth, and enhanced user experience opportunities available with the Newspack content management system.

The selection of newsrooms was managed by News Revenue Hub, a nonprofit organization that works with over 70 publishers on building membership revenue, growing audiences and developing sustainable business practices. In addition to receiving funding, selected newsrooms will access training sessions, led by the Hub, on utilizing and leveraging business and audience development tools and strategies.

The 26 newsrooms were selected from an applicant pool of 176 news organizations. Led by News Revenue Hub, an expert panel of industry experts evaluated each application on a basis of application strength, grant utilization, and industry impact. For more on the Hub’s process, see this blog post.

Media contact:  Tony Franquiz at [email protected] or 202-374-5393. 

Photo (top) by Daniel Olah on Unsplash

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