Knight Foundation Announces Major Trust, Media And Democracy Initiative To Build A Stronger Future For Journalism

Sep 26, 2017

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced a major initiative to support the role of strong, trusted journalism as essential to a healthy democracy. The initiative is anchored by the Knight Commission on Trust, Media and Democracy, a panel of thinkers and doers from diverse backgrounds committed to creating more informed and engaged communities. This nonpartisan commission will explore causes for the erosion of trust in democratic institutions, in particular the press. It will also identify new thinking and solutions around rebuilding trust.

The Knight Commission will be chaired by Jamie Woodson, executive chairman and CEO of Tennessee’s State Collaborative on Reforming Education, and Tony Marx, president of The New York Public Library, the largest public library in the nation and the most used library system in the world. It will be run by the Aspen Institute, with $2 million in support from Knight.

The initiative also includes the Knight Prototype Fund, which fosters accurate information in media and announced a new round of winners in June 2017, and Newsmatch, a partnership with Democracy Fund to support nonprofit news and investigative news outlets with matching grants during the end-of-year giving period; Newsmatch was initially launched by Knight in December 2016. Knight plans to build on the initiative further with the help of the commission and other partners.

Combining big picture thinking with immediate action, the initiative also features more than $2.5 million in new funding to seven projects aimed at improving trust in news and building stronger connections between journalists and their audiences.

The projects include Cortico, Duke University Reporters’ Lab, President and Fellows of Harvard College, Associated Press, Reynolds Journalism Institute, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, and Jefferson Center.

The first meeting of the Knight Commission on Trust, Media and Democracy will be held on Oct. 12 at New York Public Library; they will be meeting in locations across the country during the next year. Commissioners come from a range of backgrounds and expertise, and their work will last just over a year. Complementing the commission’s plan to engage the community in solution building, Ibargüen is in Detroit this week to engage with media professionals and community members on the future of local news.