Ford backs for-profit newsroom

A recent Ford Foundation grant to the Los Angeles Times highlights the heightened competition pubcasters face for philanthropic dollars in a fast-changing media world. The $1.04 million two-year grant to the newspaper, a subsidiary of the Tribune Company media conglomerate, marks the first time Ford has directly supported a major for-profit daily. The money will be used to hire staff members to cover new and expanded beats, including immigration and California’s prison system. The decision to pay for additional reporters, Ford spokesman Alfred Ironside explains in an email, resulted from the grantmaker’s exploration of “new models for sustaining quality, independent journalism that reaches more people at a time when newsrooms are under stress.” Ford is considering similar grants to other for-profit news organizations, he writes. Such developments worry observers of public broadcasting.