Knight Foundation announces new support to strengthen digital platforms in newsrooms across the country

24 newsrooms will receive $20,000 grants to adopt or manage publishing platforms

MIAMI — June 22, 2020 — To help news organizations better serve their communities with quality news and information, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced the first 24 recipients of support from its $2 million, three-year technology initiative to strengthen digital publishing solutions in newsrooms.

After a competitive application process, the first cohort of 24 newsrooms have been selected to receive $20,000 in grants for publishing tools that will improve distribution, community engagement and revenue opportunities, such as digital subscriptions and membership. The first group includes a mix of nonprofit news organizations, small commercial community newspapers and new digital upstarts. Of the selected newsrooms, 58% are nonprofit organizations; 58% are led by or serve communities of color; and 42% are committed to delivering local journalism.

“Now, more than ever, it’s critical for newsrooms and publishers to adopt digital solutions that meet audiences where they are and provide new revenue opportunities,” said Paul Cheung, Knight Foundation director for journalism and technology innovation. “These outstanding news organizations now have the opportunity to leverage technology to maximize their revenue and better serve their communities.”

To become sustainable and build trust in the communities they serve, news organizations need the tools to engage in the urgent discussions about race and equity with their users and deliver real-time updates on the coronavirus pandemic. Knight funding will help news organizations achieve these goals with the publishing tools that prioritize and enhance audience development, business development and editorial content production.

The selected news organizations and the publishing systems they’ll employ are:

  • Accion Hispana/Que Pasa, Winston-Salem, NC (Custom WordPress)
    Que Pasa Media works to inform, educate and drive to actions the Spanish-speaking local community to help them to have a better life (por una vida mejor), increase their knowledge of their rights and duties as members of their communities, and give the information they need to continue becoming better productive and contributing members of society.
  • Afro American Newspapers, Baltimore, Md. (Custom WordPress)
    The Afro American Newspapers (The AFRO) is the longest-running African American family-owned newspaper in the nation. Founded in 1892 by John H. Murphy Sr., the AFRO promotes unity in the community and crusades for racial justice while exposing racism in education, jobs, housing, and public accommodations.
  • The Atlanta Voice, Atlanta, Ga.(Newspack)
    Serving Metro Atlanta and beyond for more than 55 years, The Atlanta Voice is a family-oriented, small business enterprise committed to creating meaningful journalism and telling stories that will help shape media consumption in the Black community. The newsroom is one-part traditional, two-parts learning lab, designed by its editorial team to foster continued learning and development in an ever-evolving industry.
  • Bangor Daily News, Bangor, Maine (Newspack)
    The Bangor Daily News is the only statewide news publication in Maine, and has been in business since 1889. As a digital-first newsroom for almost a decade, it serves a largely rural audience in the most rural state in the U.S., with only around 30% of residents living in cities.
  • BK Reader (The Brooklyn Reader), Brooklyn, N.Y. (Newspack)
    The Brooklyn Reader is a digital daily news site covering Central, East and part of North Brooklyn.
  • Block Club Chicago, Chicago, Ill. (Custom WordPress)
    Block Club Chicago is a nonprofit news organization dedicated to delivering reliable, nonpartisan and essential coverage of Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods. It is committed to covering underserved and urban communities, including neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West sides.
  • Carolina Public Press, Asheville, N.C. (Newspack)
    Carolina Public Press is an independent nonprofit news organization dedicated to nonpartisan, in-depth and investigative news built upon the facts and context North Carolinians need to know. Its award-winning, breakthrough journalism shines a light on the overlooked and under-reported issues facing the state’s 10.2 million residents.
  • Community Media Center, Grand Rapids, Mich. (Drupal)
    Community Media Center is a nonprofit media center that includes a citizen journalism website, public access TV, community radio, and other services for nonprofit organizations.
  • The Daily Yonder, Whitesburg, KY (Newspack)
    The Daily Yonder provides news, commentary, and analysis about and for rural America. We publish online to a nationwide audience of rural residents, advocates, policymakers, and journalists. Our reporting aims to inform rural Americans and the people who care about rural communities about important issues and to build bridges between rural and urban communities in ways that strengthen both.
  • D.C. Witness, Washington, D.C. (Custom WordPress)
    D.C. Witness is a website that tracks every homicide, sexual assault and domestic violence case in D.C., from act to resolution, by gathering and sharing data. It brings unprecedented transparency to the D.C. criminal justice system.
  • Fostering Media Connections, Los Angeles, Calif. (Custom WordPress)
    Fostering Media Connections (FMC) leads the conversation about children, youth and families in America. FMC publishes The Chronicle of Social Change, a daily news site dedicated to rigorous, in-depth journalism focused on families and the systems that impact their lives, as well as a bi-monthly magazine, Fostering Families Today, which is distributed to foster families across America.
  • Mississippi Today, Ridgeland, Miss. (Largo)
    Mississippi Today is a nonprofit news and media company with a forward-facing mission of civic engagement and public dialog through service journalism, live events and digital outreach. They believe engaging in the news is a way of life and good reporting and the accountability it inspires can change the trajectory of their state.
  • Montana Free Press, Helena, Mont. (Newspack)
    Montana Free Press is an independent, nonprofit source for in-depth Montana news, information, and analysis. It works independently and in collaboration with other news outlets around Montana to produce meaningful news stories that have an impact on the lives and livelihoods of local communities.
  • Muslim, New York, N.Y. (Newspack)
    Muslim is a news outlet, media publication and online community for millennials and Gen-Z Muslims to connect with one another, feel empowered through each other, amplify their faith, and share their lifestyles and views.
  • Muslim Journal, Chicago, Ill. (Newspack)
    Muslim Journal, a 44+ year old weekly newspaper, is the oldest Muslim newspaper in the U.S. Started by Malcolm X Shabazz, the publication represents a free and independent voice and is securing its future with a firm presence online via virtual news circulation.
  • Native News Online, Grand Rapids, Mich. (Joomla)
    Native News Online delivers important daily news that affects the lives of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Founded in 2011, its vision is to “change the narrative” about Indian Country by providing fair, balanced and accurate coverage of social issues, policy matters and economic development involving tribes throughout the United States.
  • New York Amsterdam News, New York, N.Y. (Newspack)
    For 109 years, the Amsterdam News has sought to provide unbiased news and information to Greater New York City’s Black community. The Amsterdam News mission is just as critical today, during this current health crisis, as it was 109 years ago.
  • The Omaha Star, Omaha, Neb. (Custom WordPress)
    It is the mission of the Mildred D. Brown Memorial Study Center to provide access to the Omaha Star’s inspirational archive materials and resources; to promote the future of community-based media; and to help area students, especially African-Americans, envision career possibilities in journalism and communications.
  • The Plug, Atlanta, Ga. (Custom WordPress)
    The Plug is a digital news and insights platform covering the Black innovation economy. It gives timely and relevant news and stories on Black ecosystems, founders, investors, and policies shaping the present and future of technology and society.
  • The Real News Network, Baltimore, Md.(Newspack)
    The Real News Network (TRNN) provides the tools and information needed to make the world a more just place. Through digital media, TRNN connects the people and movements working for transformative change with the stories that matter, in the U.S. and around the world.
  • Sahan Journal, St. Paul, Minn. (Newspack)
    Sahan Journal is a nonprofit digital news organization that covers Minnesota’s immigrant and refugee communities. Launched in the summer of 2019, the news organization chronicles the struggles, successes and transformations of Minnesota’s new Americans, whose stories are often overlooked by traditional news organizations.
  • Scalawag, Durham, N.C. (Newspack)
    Scalawag is a Black-led, women-run nonprofit media and storytelling organization that illuminates dissent, unsettles dominant narratives, pursues justice and liberation, and stands in solidarity with marginalized people and communities in the South.
  • Soul Pitt Media, Pittsburgh, Pa. (Custom WordPress)
    Soul Pitt Media, a certified minority-business enterprise, is a local media company that serves the African-American population in Pittsburgh and the surrounding Western Pa. communities by delivering the latest, most informative, and most comprehensive content via its award-winning internet and print platforms, TheSoulPitt.com and Soul Pitt Quarterly print magazine.
  • TucsonSentinel.com, Tucson, Ariz. (ExpressionEngine)
    TucsonSentinel.com reports in-depth stories about politics and public policy in Southern Arizona, focusing on the unique cultural and social interactions in the borderlands. With an emphasis on immigration, the environment and local investigations, its award-winning journalism holds the powerful to account and gives voice to stories that otherwise go untold.

The selection of newsrooms was managed by News Revenue Hub, a nonprofit organization that works with more than 50 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 24 newsrooms were selected from an applicant pool of 140 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.

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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 kf.org.

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Media Contact:
Roshni Neslage, Communications Officer, Knight Foundation, 305.908.2623, [email protected]


Photo (top) by Luke Paris on Unsplash