Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund announces $5.25 million in new support for Philadelphia journalism

Fund’s first grants to support new local journalism models, advanced technology for newsrooms

PHILADELPHIA  (Sept. 19, 2019) — The Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund on Thursday announced $5.25 million in new funding to support journalism innovation in Philadelphia. The investments mark the first grants to be distributed by the fund which was created in 2018.

Grants to Resolve Philadelphia, Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University, and The Philadelphia Inquirer will support new models for local journalism while ensuring that news organizations have the necessary technology and community engagement skills to successfully serve Philadelphia’s diverse communities. The investments will advance the city as a national leader in local journalism innovation — setting a model for other regions around the United States.

“Local journalism succeeds when it is created in service of and alongside communities,” said Roxann Stafford, Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund Managing Director. “These initial grants will empower news organizations to meet the information needs of their audiences through inclusive engagement strategies and effective use of technology and data. This is just the start of the fund’s work with Philadelphia’s innovative journalists, organizations, and communities. As we progress, we will share lessons and continue to work at the national level by collaborating with promising and creative individuals and organizations.”

“Local journalism succeeds when it is created in service of and alongside communities”

Roxann Stafford

The Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund was created by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism to help build a sustainable, equitable future for local news. The Facebook Journalism Project has also invested in the fund to support News Catalyst at Temple’s Klein College of Media and Communication.

The fund’s investments in Philadelphia center on the use of technology and product-development in the service of community-focused journalism and the creation of new revenue streams to support local news organizations. Knight-Lenfest will soon announce additional funding opportunities for journalists and publishers in Philadelphia and around the United States.

Here is more detail about each of the investments:

Resolve Philadelphia ($250,000): Resolve Philadelphia is a non-profit organization that develops and advances local journalism rooted in equity, collaboration, and the elevation of community voices and solutions. Resolve is focused on amplifying the experiences of under-/mis- represented communities and ensuring access to news, information and the news production process.

Resolve leads Broke in Philly, a collaboration of 25 Philadelphia-area newsrooms and academic partners covering poverty and economic justice.

The investment in Resolve, a national leader in collaborative journalism, will empower it to add staff and build capacity in data journalism, fostering deeper partnerships and collaborations among diverse media, and conducting research into how communities access information that benefits their day-to-day lives. By sharing lessons with the rest of the news industry, Resolve will showcase how solutions-oriented collaborative journalism can foster civic engagement and impact change.

News Catalyst at the Klein College of Media and Communication, Temple University ($2 million): News Catalyst will help local news organizations by providing the tools, technology and expertise necessary to help advance enterprises’ technology and product capabilities. It will also create PressPass, a one-stop “app store” for local news tools. News Catalyst will work with news organizations to ensure that the products it builds align with their strategic needs. Housed at Temple’s Klein College of Media and Communication, News Catalyst will be led by Aron Pilhofer, the Temple University James B. Steele Chair in Journalism Innovation.

Over the course of the two-year grant, News Catalyst will collaborate with news leaders in Philadelphia and nationwide to develop the product-focused culture needed to better reach communities and generate revenue. News Catalyst will develop case studies and other in-person and online training resources to expand the reach of its work.

News Catalyst is also supported by a $1 million grant from the Facebook Journalism Project.

The Philadelphia Inquirer ($3 million): The two-year grant will accelerate the Inquirer’s ongoing transformation to a digital-first news organization.

The investment will enable the Inquirer to expand its technology and product development teams. Newsroom-based engineers and product managers will partner closely in agile teams with the Inquirer’s reporters and editors. Together, they will build engaging news experiences that support and enable high-impact journalism that is representative of Philadelphia in all its diversity. The grant will support community-focused reporting by helping make the Inquirer’s digital platforms easier to use for readers and subscribers.

The Inquirer’s work will serve as a blueprint for other local news organizations in Philadelphia and around the country. It will share regular updates on the successes — and the inevitable challenges — along its ongoing journey to digital transformation.

“The Lenfest Institute has in the past three years invested in new and expanded teams of investigative journalists and in greater diversity in the Inquirer newsroom, each in service of the diverse communities of our region,” said Jim Friedlich, Lenfest Institute Executive Director and CEO. “This new grant program will help provide the technology and product development resources needed to deliver important local journalism in the digital age.”

“These investments will help Philadelphia, a community with strong journalistic and investigative reporting roots, explore new and innovative ways to deliver strong coverage and engage with the community on important issues,” said Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism. “We are certain this round of investments will help Philadelphia’s local media ecosystem become a model for other cities to replicate.”

The Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund is a $20 million, five-year effort designed to accelerate innovation in local news organizations in Philadelphia and across the United States.

In the coming months, the Knight-Lenfest Fund will announce additional opportunities for Philadelphia-focused journalists and organizations as well as new initiatives to support local news nationwide.

For more information and to stay up-to-date, please visit lenfestinstitute.org.

About The Lenfest Institute for Journalism

The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is a non-profit organization whose sole mission is to develop and support sustainable business models for great local journalism. The Institute was founded in 2016 by cable television entrepreneur H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest. The Institute is the parent organization of The Philadelphia Inquirer, a for-profit public benefit corporation dedicated to serving the people of the Philadelphia region.

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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