New policy promotes donor transparency in digital media

Knight Foundation requires new journalism and media grantees to disclose major donors

MIAMI – April 15, 2012 – Recognizing the transparency is a core value in the digital age, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced today it will require journalism and media grantees to disclose the identities and amounts contributed by major donors.

 “As media demand a more open society, society is demanding a more open media,” said Michael Maness, Vice President for Journalism and Media Innovation at Knight Foundation. “Transparency improves credibility and encourages engagement. People want to know who is paying for their news – and news organizations need to be transparent to ensure their own success.”

The requirement applies to donations of $5,000 and more given to the projects Knight Foundation is funding.  The information must be published on the organization’s website.

Some of the leaders in the nonprofit news field are already publicly identifying donors, many by posting their entire IRS Form 990B, which is a listing of contributors, on their websites. A report by American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop indicates that 88 percent of the web-based nonprofit news sites surveyed post such information.

Recognizing philanthropy’s history of protecting the donor privacy, the policy applies only to new grants in journalism and media innovation, and only to projects funded by Knight Foundation.

A list of frequently asked questions about the new policy is available at knightfoundation.org/transparency.

“As nonprofit news sites continue to proliferate, their transparency will become increasingly important to our communities and our democracy. We hope that other foundations will consider a similar policy as a way to help lead journalism to its best possible future,” said Maness. 

 

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Contacts: Andrew Sherry, Vice President/Communications, (305) 908-2677, media@knightfoundation.org

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.