Seeking Sustainability for Local Journalism

February 18, 2014

Dodge Announces $2 million grant from the Knight Foundation

The news coming out of New Jersey for the past month is not the kind of news we, as a state, want to be known for. Yet it does underscore for us at Dodge the importance of having strong, independent media to shine a light in dark corners and to help us understand the information that impacts our daily lives and our communities.

So here’s the good news: the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded a $2 million, two-year grant to the Dodge Foundation to continue their support of our efforts to strengthen and grow New Jersey-focused news and information. Knight previously made an $800,000 grant to Dodge in 2012.

New Jersey has long lived in the shadows of the New York and Philadelphia media markets, leaving New Jerseyans with far less access to high quality news that focuses on the issues and challenges we face in our state.

To tackle this, we have built partnerships with a number of news organizations, nonprofits and journalists, as well as universities over the last three years to establish New Jersey as a model for collaboration and news innovation in the 21st century. What does that look like? For-profit and nonprofit news organizations sharing content and audiences with one anotherlarge-scale reporting collaborationsmicro grants for news start-ups, and a robust array of ongoing learning opportunities for journalists – from data journalism to business training to mobile media basics. There is even such a thing as an OPRA (Open Public Records Act) sherpa – someone who can help journalists increase their chances of successfully receiving the information they seek when they file OPRA requests with the state.

But we need to go even further, and Knight’s support is going to help us do that. Over the next two years, we, along with our partners, plan to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing all news organizations – both for-profit and nonprofit: what does financial sustainability look like, and how does our news ecosystem achieve it? What are the major gaps in coverage, and how do they (sustainably) get filled? How do news organizations connect with their audiences in more meaningful and inclusive ways, so that people feel both informed and actively engaged in their communities?

We invite you to come along with us as we explore solutions to these challenges. We also welcome your suggestions for the gaps in coverage you’d like to see filled: is it news about your town? Perhaps it’s information about a particular topic? Let us know.

Related Reading:

Four new community information investments focus on high-impact projects (Knight Foundation blog)

Searching for the Future of Journalism (Dodge blog)

A Giant Leap for New Jersey News (Dodge blog)

The Emerging New Jersey News Ecosystem: A Summary of Findings (Dodge blog)

You can find the archive of all our media blog posts here, featuring regular blogs by Debbie Galant, Director of the NJ News Commons.