Knight’s $300M for journalism includes support for ‘Frontline’ community reporting

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The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced Tuesday that it is pumping $300 million into journalism initiatives over the next five years, with $3 million going to public TV’s Frontline.

Frontline will hire an editor and reporters in up to five communities to cover issues such as housing, education, law enforcement and voting access, EP Raney Aronson-Rath told Current. It will also strengthen the show’s national efforts, she said.

The initiative is still in early planning stages, a Frontline spokesperson said, so locations have not yet been selected.

Other nonprofit media recipients of the Knight funds are ProPublica, receiving $5 million for the nonprofit newsroom to advance journalism partnerships and expand its Local Reporting Network, and Report for America, with $5 million going to the national service program to grow its work in underserved local newsrooms.

Knight also announced $20 million in funding to the American Journalism Project, a new venture philanthropy initiative that will focus on grants to nonprofit civic news organizations, and $1.5 million to NewsMatch, a matching-gift campaign for nonprofit newsrooms that Knight launched in 2016. (Current has participated in NewsMatch.)

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund are among other organizations to receive support.

Knight will also invest an additional $35 million “to support the creation and expansion of research centers around the United States,” according to the announcement. The work “will study the changing nature of an informed society in America and will help build an emerging field of study to address pressing questions about the health of an informed society and citizenry in the digital age,” it said.

Knight is supporting “scalable organizations committed to serving communities at the local level” that are “building new business models, strengthening investigative reporting, protecting press freedom, promoting news literacy and connecting with audiences through civic engagement and technology,” the announcement said. The funder “called on individual and institutional funders to join in this opportunity.”

“We’re not funding one-offs,” said Knight President Alberto Ibargüen. “We’re helping to rebuild a local news ecosystem, reliable and sustainable, and we’re doing it in a way that anyone who cares can participate.”

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