Nonprofits investing $500M to help struggling local newsrooms

More than 20 nonprofit organizations pledged Thursday to invest more than $500 million to help struggling newsrooms, as many local outlets have been forced to close their doors in recent years.

The MacArthur Foundation is championing the new initiative, Press Forward, which is aiming to support local news over the next five years with the help of 22 nonprofit partners.

“We have a moment to support the reimagination, revitalization, and rapid development of local news. We are prepared to support the strongest ideas and seed new ones; build powerful networks; and invest in people, organizations, and networks with substantial resources,” said John Palfrey, president of the MacArthur Foundation.

“The philanthropic sector recognizes the need to strengthen American democracy and is beginning to see that progress on every other issue, from education and healthcare to criminal justice reform and climate change, is dependent on the public’s understanding of the facts,” he added.

The announcement noted that about 2,200 local newspapers have closed since 2005, which has resulted in 20 percent of Americans living in places with little to no coverage of local news.

This rate has only increased in recent years, with more than 360 newspapers closing between late 2019 and May 2022, according to research by Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications. This means newspapers were closing at an average rate of two per week throughout the United States, with researchers predicting one-third of local newspapers will be gone by 2025.

The initiative aims to provide resources to “local newsrooms that have trust in local communities,” adding it will help expand services and tools, like legal support and membership programs, for the newspapers. It also wants to provide more resources for newsrooms and organizations that are improving the “diversity of experience.”

Newsrooms and organizations will be able to apply for grants, which will be managed by the Miami Foundation. The announcement said most grant-making will begin next year.

Tags local news MacArthur Foundation