Two new projects win funding to support news in the public interest: The Detroit Journalism Cooperative and The Michigan Reporting Initiative

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"How public media can help the recovery of Detroit" by Eric Newton on Knight Blog

DETROIT -- (Dec. 3, 2013) -- Two projects totaling $500,000 were announced today to advance public interest journalism in Detroit and Michigan.

The two, funded separately, are:

The Detroit Journalism Cooperative – The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has granted a total of $250,000 to five nonprofit media organizations in Detroit to focus on the city’s bankruptcy and its impact on community life and the city’s future. Data-driven journalism will explain the city’s financial issues and engage citizens in looking at solutions. The cooperative’s convening partner will be the Center for Michigan and its members include Detroit Public Television (DPTV), Michigan Radio, Detroit Public Radio (WDET) and New Michigan Media.

The Michigan Reporting Initiative -- The Ford Foundation has made a $250,000 grant to Zero Divide on behalf of Renaissance Journalism, which will support journalists and media organizations within the state of Michigan looking at the impact of emergency managers on transparency and accountability as well as the impact of state policies on disenfranchised communities.

The funders share an interest in improving the quality and quantity of news coverage and increasing public understanding; Knight relating to Detroit issues and Ford regarding Michigan issues.

“How residents and policymakers understand and deal with Detroit’s crises will have repercussions decades into the future,” said Katy Locker, Knight Foundation’s program director in Detroit. “Some say the bankruptcy could herald the start of a recovery, but that can only happen if the community is informed and engaged and has a plan for continuing improvements the day after bankruptcy. Nonprofit journalism can help.” An example, she said, was the Nov. 6 analysis of the impact of retiree benefits and other legacy costs on city budgets throughout the state produced by the Bridge Magazine for the Center for Michigan.

“The opportunity for the region and the state is to develop more productive and innovative ways to meet the challenges of severe population declines, high illiteracy rates, stark racial segregation and other deep-seated issues,” said Jon Funabiki of Renaissance Journalism. “Detroit is just one of a number of Michigan communities with  an emergency manager, and what we learn from Detroit can offer lessons for both the state and nation."

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.  www.knightfoundation.org

CONTACT: Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 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.