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New Media Makers Increasingly Getting Grants for News

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At least 180 community, family and other foundations have contributed nearly $128 million in grants to news and information initiatives in the United States since 2005, according to a report released today by J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism.

This funding went to support at least 115 news projects in 17 states and the District of Columbia, with many projects receiving multiyear funding.

“We’re sure there are more grants we haven’t yet found, but one thing is clear: Philanthropic foundations are increasingly embracing the idea that journalism projects can be a funding fit,” said Jan Schaffer, executive director of J-Lab, a project of American University’s School of Communication.

The information is contained in a grants database that is part of J-Lab’s report, “New Media Makers: A Toolkit for Innovators in Community Media and Grant Making.” The toolkit, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, offers case studies, videos and online resources that capture lessons from these new media makers and their funders.

The database shows that of the nearly $128 million awarded, more than $56 million has gone to support three investigative journalism projects.

“News is a core community need. People need it to run their lives, and democracy needs it to work. It’s great to see broad and growing support among community foundations for local news and information projects,” said Gary Kebbel, journalism program director at Knight Foundation.

The toolkit offers chapters on how foundations are finding journalism to be a funding fit, how these news projects are impacting their communities and how funders are measuring success.  An accompanying DVD offers compelling inside looks at what it takes to start up innovative news projects, whether the founders are amateur or professional journalists.

The database, believed to be the first of its kind, focuses on funding for news and information projects, including investigative journalism efforts, in the last four years. It acknowledges, but excludes, the generous philanthropic support for public broadcasters, underwriting for documentaries, for journalism training and student news services.

“We sought to begin documenting what we see as a new trend,” Schaffer said.

The database is organized alphabetically by foundation and is searchable online. Funders and grant recipients can update the online list with new or missing grants.

About Knight Foundation  The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes journalism excellence worldwide and invests in the vitality of the U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since 1950 the foundation has granted more than $400 million to advance journalism quality and freedom of expression. Knight Foundation focuses on ideas and projects that create transformational change. To learn more, visit

About J-Lab  J-Lab helps news organizations and citizens use digital technologies to develop new ways for people to participate in public life. It also administers the Knight Citizen News Network (, the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism,, and the McCormick New Media Women Entrepreneurs initiative (

About American University’s School of Communication   American University’s School of Communication is a laboratory for professional education, communication research and innovative production in the fields of journalism, film and media arts and public communication, working across media platforms and with a focus on public affairs and public service.


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