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Democracy Fund & First Look Media Announce $12M+ in New Grants to Support Free Press

By Democracy Fund / 2017 March 25th

Washington, D.C. – Today First Look Media and Democracy Fund announced more than $12 million in new grants to support an independent, robust free press. Three leading nonprofit news organizations – the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Center for Public Integrity, and ProPublica – will each receive $3 million at a moment when the role of journalism in our democracy is facing unprecedented challenges.

These three grants, which are a collaboration between First Look Media and Democracy Fund, will help ensure journalists have the resources they need to meet the reporting challenges of today’s political landscape. The two organizations are also granting $500,000 to the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University to expand accountability reporting collaborations between university students and professional journalists, and $275,000 for an innovative collaboration between Professor Jay Rosen at New York University and De Correspondent to test new models of community support for investigative reporting.

“A healthy democracy cannot exist without a vibrant public square in which hard-hitting, independent media inform the public and hold power accountable,” said Democracy Fund President Joe Goldman. “Investigative journalists play a crucial role in our political system. We hope this support extends the reach and depth of a remarkable set of nonprofit newsrooms at a pivotal moment in American history.”

Democracy Fund and First Look Media share a strong commitment to and belief in the critical role of the First Amendment; both organizations were created by philanthropist Pierre Omidyar.

“At First Look Media, we speak truth to power and tell the stories that matter — across our fearless journalism, films, TV, and digital,” said Michael Bloom, President of First Look Media. “We are thrilled to make these grants to others in our field who are also doing such important work during these critical times.”

First Look Media and Democracy Fund also independently announced additional grants today.

Democracy Fund announced an $800,000 grant to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to help ensure investigative journalists have the legal support and First Amendment protections necessary to pursue their work. Building on its ongoing commitment to transforming local news, Democracy Fund also announced the forthcoming establishment of a new fund for local and state investigative reporting, with an initial investment of $1 million. Democracy Fund is inviting other funders to join them in building a new resource to support state and local reporting; more information will be made available in the coming months. Democracy Fund also contributed $200,000 to the Knight Prototype Fund on trust in journalism.

“National and local nonprofit newsrooms are playing an increasingly important role and building new models for reporting through creativity, collaboration, and civic engagement,” said Tom Glaisyer, Public Square Program Director, Democracy Fund. “In so doing, they bring new people into journalism, highlight new voices, and tell fuller and deeply relevant stories.”

Since 2011, Democracy Fund has invested more than $18 million in support of a more vibrant public square, which includes efforts on local journalism, fact-checking, and newsroom diversity.

First Look Media is providing a grant of $550,000 over two years to support The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute. This grant will support investigative reporting on Wall Street and on environmental issues for The Intercept. The Investigative Fund, an award-winning newsroom for independent journalists, incubates investigative reporting projects with the potential for social impact and publishes this work in editorial partnership with a wide variety of print, broadcast, and digital outlets.

“Reporters are facing unprecedented challenges in the current political environment, which demands bold, intensively researched journalism that simply is not possible in most newsrooms without outside support,” said Betsy Reed, Editor-in-Chief of The Intercept.

Democracy Fund and First Look Media will announce all the grants tonight at the Toner Prize Celebration honoring the work of the late Robin Toner, the first woman to be chief political correspondent for The New York Times. The event benefits the Toner Program in Political Reporting at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School.

Democracy Fund and First Look Media Joint Grants, Total $9,775,000

  • The Center for Investigative Reporting, $3 million over two years - This grant provides general operating support to CIR as they pioneer new models of investigative reporting rooted in collaboration, community engagement, and creativity.
  • The Center for Public Integrity, $3 million over two years - This grant provides general operating support to CPI to expand its watchdog reporting and strengthen its ability to hold institutions accountable to the American people.
  • ProPublica, $3 million over two years - This grant provides general operating support to ProPublica, whose groundbreaking work combines hard-hitting investigations and cutting edge data journalism in service to communities.
  • The Investigative Reporting Workshop, $500,000 over two years - This grant provides general operating support to the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University to deepen its model of accountability reporting, which fosters collaboration between students, professional journalists, and longstanding newsrooms.
  • New York University, $275,000 over one year - This grant will establish a laboratory for community-supported investigative reporting through a unique partnership between New York University and De Correspondent. The project will focus on developing sustainable business models for U.S. newsrooms rooted in new membership structures and draw on the lessons from a world leader in community-driven accountability journalism.

Democracy Fund Grants, Total $2 million

  • Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, $800,000 over two years - This grant provides general operating support to the Reporters Committee to enhance its ability to provide legal resources and guidance for independent journalists and nonprofit news outlets, in addition to continuing its work with longtime partners in broadcast, print, and online news media.
  • State and Local Investigative Fund, $1 million initial investment - With this funding, Democracy Fund seeks to establish a new fund for state and local investigative journalism and invites other funders and donors to contribute and collaborate. The goal of the fund is to serve as a beacon for those who want to support local and state news, investigative beats, and nonprofit newsrooms.
  • Knight Prototype Fund on Misinformation, $200,000 over one years - Democracy Fund also contributed $200,000 to the Knight Prototype Fund’s $1 million open call for ideas on misinformation and trust in journalism, a partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Rita Allen Foundation; the open call is accepting applications until April 3.
First Look Media Grant, Total $550,000 over two years
  • This grant supports a partnership between The Intercept & the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute for investigative reporting on Wall Street and on environmental issues.

About FIRST LOOK MEDIA:

A bold, independent spirit defines everything we do at First Look Media – from journalism that holds the powerful accountable, to art and entertainment that shape our culture. Launched by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar, First Look Media is built on the belief that freedom of expression and of the press, diverse voices, and fiercely independent perspectives, are vital to a healthy democracy and a vibrant culture.

About DEMOCRACY FUND:

The Democracy Fund is a bipartisan foundation established by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar to help ensure that our political system can withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Since 2011, Democracy Fund has invested more than $50 million in support of effective governance, modern elections, and a vibrant public square.

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Please contact the Democracy Fund's Communications Department to arrange interviews with our program directors or to contact grant recipients. If you're part of a grantee organization intending to publicize a grant you've received, please contact us for guidance.

Lauren Strayer
Director of Communications
(202)420-7928
EMAIL LAUREN

Jessica Harris
Communications Associate
(202)448-4503
EMAIL JESSICA

 

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