The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Apr 07, 2011

Council on Foundations provides new opportunity to learn how to invest in journalism and media

Posted by Michele McLellan

This post is by Michele McLellan, journalist and consultant, and Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

We’ll be at the Council on Foundations Conference at 9:30 a.m. Monday to launch a new guide, “Journalism and Media Grant Making: Five Things You Need to Know, Five Ways to Get Started.”

It is a basic how-to, from the foundations that are making media and journalism grants, for the foundations that are thinking about making them.

More foundations are getting involved.  About 15,000 newspaper journalists have been cut from newsrooms in recent years. As news organizations cut back, community leaders find they must strengthen the news and information flow in order to accomplish their strategic goals of civic engagement and community betterment.

There are lots of ways to get involved and they don’t all cost a lot of money.  Some foundations have established independent public affairs journalism outlets, others have trained citizens to create digital media, and others have created awareness campaigns about education, the environment and civic participation.

The booklet describes many efforts, from grants to support professional journalism about health care by the California Endowment to a contest sponsored by the Minnesota Community Foundation to bring new voices into civic conversations about important state issues.

The booklet features two lists:

Five Things You Need to Know

  1. This is everyone’s issue
  2. You can build on what you’re already doing
  3. You can start without a lot of money
  4. Good journalism requires independence
  5. Digital media must be targeted to produce impact

Five Ways to Get Started

  1. Map your community’s news ecosystem
  2. Run a contest to find new voices
  3. Grow your own digital expertise
  4. Partner with local news organizations
  5. Help create a public interest news organization

Conference participants will find a copy of the booklet in their bags or they can pick one up at our session – Informed and Engaged Communities, Journalism and Media Grant Making, from 9:30-11 a.m. Monday, April 11 in Franklin 2, Level 4. For those who can’t attend in person, we’ll be live blogging the session too at the same time at

You can also download a copy here.

The booklet was produced by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the William Penn Foundation.

Back to top