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Charitable giving goes collaborative

“Funding this kind of work is also an easier on-ramp for philanthropic organizations to launch their own journalistic giving, as supporting a whole host of groups with one donation can be a more palatable way to join in.”

As more private foundations and major donors across the U.S. consider giving money to news organizations, I believe 2020 will be the year when more do that collaboratively. As in, supporting journalism collaboratives.

There’s a growing interest across the U.S. in how philanthropy can support news. That’s due to the seismic shifts in the business models underpinning the media industry, to be sure, but also the social and political moment we are in. Press freedom is under attack, misinformation and disinformation are infecting daily life, and a growing number of Americans don’t have access to the kind of basic civic information they need to be informed citizens.

Donating directly to nonprofit news outlets is one way philanthropy can help. And thanks to programs like NewsMatch and organizations like the American Journalism Project, that’s growing.

Another way is to create local funds that support collaborative work. Let me explain.

Collaborative journalism is a powerful and effective way for news outlets to break major investigative stories, to hold power to account and to reach diverse audiences. Local collaboratives can be especially impactful. Consider the work of Carolina Public Press: Earlier this year, it and close to a dozen media partners produced the series Seeking Conviction, which investigated problems with sexual assault prosecutions in North Carolina. You have to read the series to understand the kind of incredible journalism they produced. As a result of the work, the state legislature there has taken up several proposals and, in November, the governor signed bills that “modernize sexual abuse laws as well as strengthen enforcement and protection for children who have been abused.”

Finding funding for such local collaborations is not easy. But as the impact of such efforts continues to be validated, I believe philanthropic groups in more cities and regions around the U.S. will see pooling their money to support such work as an effective, transparent, and fair way to give money to journalism. Funding this kind of work is also an easier on-ramp for philanthropic organizations to launch their own journalistic giving, as supporting a whole host of groups with one donation can be a more palatable way to join in.

We’ve been seeing this happen in such places as Denver, Detroit, and Cleveland. Now 2020 will be the year where the idea spreads much more widely.

Stefanie Murray is the director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University.

As more private foundations and major donors across the U.S. consider giving money to news organizations, I believe 2020 will be the year when more do that collaboratively. As in, supporting journalism collaboratives.

There’s a growing interest across the U.S. in how philanthropy can support news. That’s due to the seismic shifts in the business models underpinning the media industry, to be sure, but also the social and political moment we are in. Press freedom is under attack, misinformation and disinformation are infecting daily life, and a growing number of Americans don’t have access to the kind of basic civic information they need to be informed citizens.

Donating directly to nonprofit news outlets is one way philanthropy can help. And thanks to programs like NewsMatch and organizations like the American Journalism Project, that’s growing.

Another way is to create local funds that support collaborative work. Let me explain.

Collaborative journalism is a powerful and effective way for news outlets to break major investigative stories, to hold power to account and to reach diverse audiences. Local collaboratives can be especially impactful. Consider the work of Carolina Public Press: Earlier this year, it and close to a dozen media partners produced the series Seeking Conviction, which investigated problems with sexual assault prosecutions in North Carolina. You have to read the series to understand the kind of incredible journalism they produced. As a result of the work, the state legislature there has taken up several proposals and, in November, the governor signed bills that “modernize sexual abuse laws as well as strengthen enforcement and protection for children who have been abused.”

Finding funding for such local collaborations is not easy. But as the impact of such efforts continues to be validated, I believe philanthropic groups in more cities and regions around the U.S. will see pooling their money to support such work as an effective, transparent, and fair way to give money to journalism. Funding this kind of work is also an easier on-ramp for philanthropic organizations to launch their own journalistic giving, as supporting a whole host of groups with one donation can be a more palatable way to join in.

We’ve been seeing this happen in such places as Denver, Detroit, and Cleveland. Now 2020 will be the year where the idea spreads much more widely.

Stefanie Murray is the director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University.

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