Last week, six months after publishing an initial diversity and inclusion audit of The Philadelphia Inquirer’s news coverage, researchers from Temple University’s Klein College for Media and Communication released an update on The Inquirer’s progress as it works to make its journalism and internal culture more inclusive.

In this issue of The Lenfest Institute’s newsletter, my colleague Shawn Mooring will share some highlights from the audit report update. Also in this issue: Institute CEO Jim Friedlich has an update on new federal legislation, the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, and another reminder about the upcoming News Philanthropy Summit.

An update on The Philadelphia Inquirer content audit

By Shawn Mooring

Jose F. Moreno/Philadelphia Inquirer

The Philadelphia Inquirer has taken initial steps to make its journalism, community engagement, and newsroom culture more inclusive and representative of the Philadelphia region’s diverse communities, according to a new report published by Temple University’s Klein College for Media and Communication. 

You can read the full report here. The report’s lead author, Temple Professor Andrea Wenzel, summarized the key findings in an article in Poynter

The report, written six months after their comprehensive audit of The Inquirer’s news coverage, offered an update on a series of recommendations made by the researchers in February 2021. The recommendations focused on inclusive sourcing and editing practices, community engagement and accountability, and The Inquirer’s internal newsroom culture. 

Several new processes and procedures have been enacted and have seen promising preliminary results, though others remain to be implemented, the report said. 

“The process of building trust in institutions that historically have been infused with structural racism, distrust, and trauma takes time, and may not be linear,” the report said. “Indeed, we can see this from The Inquirer’s own history, where gains from DEI initiatives in the 1980s and 1990s were not necessarily maintained or built upon. Developing trust requires consistent commitment to the work of pursuing antiracism — and diligence to avoid elements of this multifaceted work from falling through the cracks.” 

In partnership with the Independence Public Media Foundation, we supported the content audit with a grant to The Inquirer. The Lenfest Local Lab @ The Inquirer, a product and user design innovation group embedded in The Inquirer’s product team, created a content mapping tool to help with the auditing process. 

The Lenfest Institute is committed to championing and facilitating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive news and information ecosystem in Philadelphia. Diversity and representation are critical components of positive business outcomes for news publishers, and the Institute will continue to support our partners in this essential work. 

A federal lifeline for local journalism

By Jim Friedlich

As the economics of local news publishing have become more challenging, The Lenfest Institute has come to believe that local journalism would benefit from some smart help from the federal government. The Institute has helped lead a national coalition to craft the Local Journalism Sustainability Act – federal legislation to help support local newsrooms without threatening their editorial independence.

As a non-partisan organization with a deep distrust of governmental influence over independent journalism, we have approached this legislation with great caution. The bill keeps the government entirely out of the editorial process of local news. Instead, it applies tax credits to support the local news choices of individual consumers and small businesses. 

The key provisions include:

  • A tax credit of up to $250 for consumers who buy newspaper subscriptions or make donations to nonprofit local news organizations such as local NPR stations.
  • A refundable payroll tax credit of up to $25,000 for each working journalist for local news organizations to help pay their news staff.
  • A tax credit of up to $5,000 for small businesses to advertise with local publishers.

Quality, independent local journalism is a fundamental right that empowers us to make informed decisions for ourselves, our families, and our communities. If enacted, the bipartisan Local Journalism Sustainability Act will provide more help for local news than any legislation in the past century. 

You can read more about this in the opinion article that I wrote for The Philadelphia Inquirer on this topic earlier this month.

News and Notes:

• A quick reminder: The Lenfest News Philanthropy Network is hosting the first-ever News Philanthropy Summit on November 3 and 4. The fully virtual summit is free and open to all. You can learn more about the gathering here, and here are a few ways you can get involved:

  • Pitch a session: What should we discuss at the Summit? Is there a topic you’d like to present on or learn about? Do you have a particular experience you want to share? Are there any speakers that we must include? Let us know by filling out this form. You can pitch your own sessions or nominate others that you’re interested in learning from. The deadline to submit session proposals is Friday September 10 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. 
  • Attend the Summit: We’ll be sending out formal Summit registrations later this fall, but if you want to make sure you know when registration is open, you can sign up here and we’ll send you updates as we get closer to the event. 
  • Share the news: The News Philanthropy Summit is free and open to all, so please feel free to pass along this information to friends and colleagues who may be interested in joining the Network and attending the Summit. You can register your interest to either pitch your own session, propose a topic you’d like to learn about, or indicate your interest in attending, by filling out this form

• Our friends at Democracy Fund publish the excellent Local Fix newsletter, a weekly update on key questions in journalism sustainability and community engagement.

Their most recent issue highlighted the recent Q&As we published with grantees of the Philadelphia COVID-19 Community Information Fund, a collaboration between the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund and the Independence Public Media Foundation. Check them out — and subscribe to the Local Fix — here

Follow us on Instagram

About half of Americans get at least some news about the COVID-19 vaccines on social media, according to new research from the Pew Research Center. On our Instagram account, we share some tips you can use — or pass along to friends or family members — to make sure that you’re consuming accurate and reliable vaccine news and information online.

(You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter too.)

Please do not hesitate to reach out to [email protected] with any questions or feedback. 

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