PHILADELPHIA (Feb. 25, 2019) — The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism on Monday announced that Roxann Stafford will lead the new $20-million Knight Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund as its managing director. Stafford will help advance Knight and Lenfest’s mission of sustaining outstanding local journalism in Philadelphia and around the United States.
Stafford most recently served as Director of Program for Matter in New York, a startup accelerator and venture capital firm grounded in the principles of design thinking that supported early-stage media entrepreneurs. There, she oversaw all aspects of the fund’s accelerator program for early stage media entrepreneurs. She has worked with local news organizations around the United States and Asia as well as with national outlets such as The New York Times and The Associated Press.
“The Knight Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund hopes to have a profound impact on the future of local journalism both here in Philadelphia and elsewhere, and Roxann is an ideal leader of the Fund. She has a deep understanding of impact investing and has years of experience leading projects focused on media innovation and culture change,” said Jim Friedlich, executive director and CEO of The Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
“We could not be more thrilled that Roxann Stafford is taking on this role. Applying her expertise in technology, design, user experience, business and philanthropy, she will help create a roadmap for the future of local news,” said Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism. “What we are most excited about is the fund’s potential, under Roxann’s leadership, to support local journalists as they figure out how best to serve people, all communities, and particularly those communities whose news and information needs are undeserved.”
Announced in September 2018, the Knight Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund will work to empower local news organizations to build trust with their audiences, while producing outstanding journalism and developing new revenue streams that can enable them to reach long-term business sustainability.
The Fund has three key focus areas:
• Support a growing network of news leaders across the country who are committed to producing outstanding local journalism and meeting the technology, business, and audience realities of the future. This work builds on leadership and change management programs supported by the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative. The initiative includes Temple University, the American Press Institute, the University of North Carolina, Poynter Institute and other partners; it helps news organizations better serve their audiences by accelerating their shift to digital-first news and revenue models.
• Create a technology-driven shared resource hub that will provide tools, hands-on support and expertise to local newsrooms at scale in areas such as data journalism, news analytics, audience engagement, revenue models, and product development. The hub is also backed by a $1 million investment from Facebook.
• Strengthen the quality of journalism and sustainable business models in Philadelphia by supporting the city’s flagship news operation, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and dozens of news outlets and other partners, such as universities, committed to building a more sustainable and equitable model for journalism. New grant programs will focus on serving the news and information needs of Philadelphia’s diverse communities and multi-cultural media.
“Ida B. Wells once said ‘The people must know before they can act and there is no educator to compare with the press,’” Stafford said. “Her words continue to inspire me as I step into this role and get to work with brilliant individuals, organizations and communities through not just one champion for journalism but two — The Lenfest Institute for Journalism and Knight Foundation. One of the things that excites me most is that this Fund is committed to the growth and development of local journalism excellence in service of the people, which means all of us working together in order to achieve our collective goals.”
Prior to her time at Matter, Stafford was SecondMuse’s director of design & learning, where she worked on a variety of innovative collaborations including LAUNCH, National Day of Civic Hacking, New York’s Next Top Makers (now Futureworks), Internet Freedom and strategic guidance for developing a sustainable apparel and footwear industry. Before joining SecondMuse, she was a consultant at FSG where she developed strategies, evaluation plans, and implementation plans in Shared Value and Collective Impact. As a Senior Associate at Jump Associates, an innovation and growth strategy firm that specializes in helping businesses discover new opportunities for progress. She worked with visionary organizations, including HP, Target, and the Kellogg Foundation, to identify new markets, reinvent existing categories, and develop new sources of revenue. Stafford continues to be a Guest Lecturer at the Stanford University School of Engineering and d.school. She earned a bachelor of science degree in product design from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from Duke University, with concentrations in social entrepreneurship and strategy.
Stafford will be based at The Lenfest Institute’s Philadelphia office.
The Fund is part of a five-year, $300 million initiative Knight announced last week focused on building the future of local news. Organizations including the American Journalism Project, ProPublica, and Report for America received funding through the initiative’s initial grants. Both Knight and Lenfest are calling on other funders and individuals to join in supporting the transformation of local news.
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 knightfoundation.org.
About The Lenfest Institute for Journalism
The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is a non-profit organization devoted to sustaining and advancing local journalism. The Institute was founded in 2016 by cable television entrepreneur H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest when he gifted both an endowment and sole ownership of the Philadelphia Media Network (The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and philly.com, the Philadelphia region’s largest local news website) to the Institute. These news properties serve as a live lab for the Institute’s investments in innovative news initiatives, new technology and sustainable business models for local news in Philadelphia and across the country. The Institute operates as a 501c3 non-profit organization as part of The Philadelphia Foundation Special Asset Fund.