H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest purchased The Philadelphia Inquirer and donated it to the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, placing Philadelphia at the epicenter of a national effort to protect and transform local news in the digital age. The Inquirer is now the largest newspaper in the United States operated as a public-benefit corporation. Under the non-profit ownership of the Institute, which is dedicated solely to the mission of preserving local journalism, the Inquirer serves as a live lab for news innovation.
The Institute supports the Inquirer through targeted grants that support high-impact journalism; news technology and innovation; and diverse, growing audiences.
$3 million Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund grant to support technology, product development
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.
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Grant amount: $308,000
The Inquirer expanded its award-winning investigative team increased capabilities in data analysis, document access, computer-assisted reporting, and rapid-response investigations.
Consumer Healthcare Coverage
Grant amount: $102,000
The Inquirer added both reporting and web-development capabilities to examine local healthcare data and issues related to health costs and quality to help consumers make more informed decisions.
Digital Content Management
Grant amount: $400,000
The Inquirer migrated to the state-of-the-art Arc content management system, which was developed by The Washington Post. The new software technology enhanced the experience for users on Inquirer.com and mobile products, as well as improved ease of use for reporters and editors as they create multimedia digital coverage for readers.
Digital Journalism Training
The American Society of News Editors ran its Digital Journalism Leadership Training program at the Inquirer. One half of the participants were invited from other newsrooms in the Philadelphia area.
Grant amount: $650,000
The Inquirer launched the Lenfest Fellowship program, a rolling two-year newsroom fellowship program that will fund emerging journalists from diverse backgrounds to work in the Inquirer newsroom, receive active mentorship, and help the Inquirer create a newsroom and an audience that is more representative of the population of the Philadelphia region.
Opinion Section Contributors Network
Grant amount: $35,000
In order to diversify the voices expressed in the opinion section of the Inquirer’s digital and print products, the Inquirer created an expanded contributors network consisting of influencers from a broad array of communities throughout the region.
Grant amount: $17,000
The Inquirer launched Curious Philly, a reader-centered reporting program using Hearken, a survey platform that enables journalists to engage their audience throughout the reporting process. The Inquirer deepened community engagement by reaching out to readers so they can pose questions and topic areas for the Inquirer to address in its reporting.