The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has announced a $15 million initiative designed to help develop new economic models for investigative reporting on digital platforms.
Grants made through the initiative will be used to promote the kind of local and national reporting citizens need to make decisions about their communities and lives. As part of the initiative, the foundation awarded a grant of $1.3 million to the Berkeley-based Center for Investigative Reporting to launch a multimedia investigative reporting project in California that encourages print, digital, and student journalists to collaborate on stories; $1 million to New York City-based ProPublica to help the nonprofit news site develop a sustainable business model; and $565,000 to the Washington, D.C.-based Sunlight Foundation to develop Web tools that make it easy for the public to access information about congressional lawmakers, including their votes and contributions to their campaigns.
According to Eric Newton, vice president for journalism at Knight, daily newspapers in the United States employ ten thousand fewer journalists in their newsrooms than they did a decade ago, while membership in groups such as Investigative Reporters and Editors has declined in recent years.
"Communities are harmed by what they do not know," said Newton. "A community can't clean up a toxic dump, or remove a corrupt official, or right any other wrong if its citizens do not know about it. We're awash in information, yet it seems to be getting harder to find good investigative reporting."