Foundations are playing a significant role in addressing the current crisis in journalism and helping to combat the disappearance of critical news and information sources, according to a new report from the Center on Communication Leadership and Policy at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication.
The report, Philanthropic Foundations: Growing Funders of the News (12 pages, PDF), which includes interviews with leaders in journalism, philanthropy, education, and the nonprofit sector, discovered that foundations have become increasingly involved with the journalism industry, supporting, for instance, topical journalism projects like Kaiser Health News and community news Web sites such as the Voice of San Diego. But while foundations will likely continue to support journalism — at least until new business models emerge — philanthropic organizations are unlikely to be the primary source of funding for the industry.
Still, some experts interviewed for the report are optimistic about the potential for future foundation involvement in journalism. "I think it's safe to say there's a growing understanding you can't run a democracy without a free flow of information," says John S. and James L. Knight Foundation president and CEO Alberto Ibargüen. "Community foundations have billions and billions [of dollars] at their disposal. We think more and more of them are going to find that information has become one of their community's core needs."