Multi-million project strives to bolster local news coverage

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CPB and the Knight Foundation are funding a multi-million dollar, two-year pilot in-depth journalism project with NPR. With $2 million from CPB and $1 million from Knight, a group of stations will expand original reporting as well as curate, distribute and share “online content about high-interest, specialized subjects,” according to a joint statement. NPR President Vivian Schiller has long backed the idea (Current, Feb. 2, 2009 and March 2, 2009). “The opportunity here is two-fold,” she said in the statement today. “First, to beef up coverage of critical issues at the local level, and, second, to begin to establish an online network that can transform itself into a news powerhouse of unparalleled depth and quality.” Stations will feed local work to NPR’s content management system (Current, Sept. 2, 2008) for participants. NewsHour will also share its embeddable video player (Current, May 12, 2008) to give participants access to several news shows. Stations have not yet been selected but will include a mix of dual licensees as well as NPR affiliates. Participants will cover part of the pilot cost and must sustain new staff after the grants have ended. Journalism bloggers will also be included. This is the first project of this type that CPB and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation have jointly funded.