MacArthur Foundation’s $25M Big Bet on Nonprofit Journalism

Print Share on LinkedIn More

May 18, 2016; Current

Building on its long-term support of the nonprofit journalism community, the MacArthur Foundation announced a $25 million initiative at the PBS annual meeting in Chicago. The five-year, unrestricted operating grants were dispersed in varying amounts to 12 organizations, from $500,000 to $4.2 million. The grants were announced at the PBS annual meeting on Wednesday.

“Independent media plays an important role in how Americans understand their community and the world, the decisions they make, and whether and how they exercise their responsibility as citizens,” said MacArthur Foundation President Julia Stasch at the meeting. “MacArthur’s investments will strengthen and enlarge the ecosystem of independent journalism, enabling even more entrepreneurial work that makes available factual reporting, authentic stories, and diverse voices to help inform a robust public civic dialogue.”

According to the foundation, the grants are meant to not only support nonprofit journalism through its pursuit and investigation of news stories, but also spur innovative and experimental work while enabling these organizations to remain independent. Among its other motivations, MacArthur wants to see the grants in action in Chicago, where the foundation is located. Another point of interest in the initiative was promoting diversity and inclusion, which, as NPQ has reported, is an issue of concern across commercial and nonprofit journalism.

For example, the Global Press Institute will be receiving $1.25 million to specifically train and recruit local women around the world to report for the institute’s 21 foreign desks. Round Earth Media will receive $500,000 for its unique collaborative reporting model, which partners green American journalists with journalists from other countries, highlighting perspectives from abroad that the U.S. media may miss by solely utilizing U.S. journalists.

Here’s a full list of the 12 grantees, their grant amounts and the expected purpose of the grants:

  • American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop: $1.5 million for original reporting on a variety of different topics.
  • The Center for Investigative Reporting: $3.5 million for general work researching, reporting, and publishing in-depth investigative stories.
  • The Center for Public Integrity: $2 million in operating support for its investigative work on both domestic and international issues.
  • The Foundation for National Progress: $1.5 million toward the nonprofit arm of Mother Jones for operating support for its in-depth investigative reporting.
  • The Global Press Institute: $1.25 million for recruiting, training, and staffing local women working from 21 foreign news desks.
  • The Nation Institute: $750,000 for The Investigative Fund, its journalism fellows program that dispenses investigative work.
  • National Public Radio: $4 million for investigative and international reporting.
  • The Public Radio International: $1.75 million for its news program, The World.
  • The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting: $2.5 million for support and dissemination of international enterprise reporting.
  • Round Earth Media: $500,000 for its collaborative global reporting model, which partners U.S. journalists beginning their careers with journalists internationally.
  • University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism: $1.5 million for its Investigative Reporting Program.
  • WGBH Educational Foundation: $4.2 million for PBS’s investigative journalism series, Frontline.

—Shafaq Hasan