So, What’s Up With This News Integrity Initiative Thing?

Today the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism announced that I am joining their team as the managing director of the News Integrity Initiative. I am beyond excited for this new challenge, and also overwhelmed by all the kind words and congratulations people have sent to me throughout the day.

I cannot tell you just yet what kinds of projects and organizations and research NII will be funding. One of my first tasks is to help create a framework and strategies to guide our decision-making. There are many ways to support trust + journalism + civic engagement, and we will have to make choices about who and when and where and at what scale. And making choices will be hard. I have come to appreciate through my work at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation that good philanthropy requires rigorous logic and consistency in decision-making, so that we will know why we are saying yes to one proposal, and no to another, and are able to defend those decisions.

What I can tell you, however, is that I care a lot about transparency and demystifying philanthropy. I will do my best to document this work, explain our thinking, and be available for discussion and debate. I hope you will hold me to this if you think I am not fulfilling this pledge.

I am also passionate about bringing more funders into the information space (e.g. journalism, data, civic tech, libraries, etc.). As I wrote in my Nieman Lab prediction at the end of last year, foundations and other philanthropic initiatives don’t have to think of themselves as “media funders,” but they do need to recognize that news + information is a “a vital pathway for helping people discuss, understand, and engage with urgent issues.” In my role as a Democracy Fund fellow, and a Media Impact Funders board member, as well as my new role with NII, I will always extend my hand to help any funder who has questions about how they might support this work too.

For me, the heart and soul of this work, regardless of who and where we fund, is fundamentally about improving people’s lives. News and information has the power to impact people in profoundly positive ways: to promote understanding among neighbors, empower people to participate in important community decisions, hold elected officials accountable, help people make decisions on issues that impact their lives, and increase trust in our shared institutions.

To that end, I feel extremely lucky not just to be working with a team and school I admire, but for the opportunity — the privilege — to support those who also care deeply about improving people’s lives.

Thank you to all who have reached out to share your messages of support and encouragement, and thanks especially to the Dodge Foundation, which has been my family and my home for almost twelve years.