Why this news can’t wait: a call to support nonprofit journalism

Karen Rundlet
Nov 21, 2019 · 3 min read

Americans still don’t understand the full extent of the financial crisis facing newsrooms — though they’re more likely to give support once they do.

Nonprofit newsrooms like City Bureau (Chicago) develop close relationships with their communities. Here, fellow Camille Powell interviews local doula Tay Mbande at a Public Newsroom on maternal health. Photo: Caroline Olsen/City Bureau

It’s no secret that local news outlets are facing looming obstacles. Newspapers, the largest producers of original local reporting in communities, have lost ad revenues to tech platforms, cut their staff, and — in the worst cases — shut their doors. News deserts are expanding, and communities are left without critical coverage on important issues.

Our country’s local news crisis means that the public is less informed, and fewer people are voting and running for local office, factors that are critical to healthy communities and a robust democracy. A new Gallup-Knight report shows that many Americans still don’t understand the full extent of the financial crisis facing newsrooms — though they’re more likely to give support once they do. And more new research shows that trust in local news, while greater than trust in national news, is still declining, eroded by the same forces that diminish trust at the national level.

A policy discussion between researchers and industry experts can be found here.

But we have hope. NewsMatch, a multi-million dollar campaign that matches individual donations to nonprofit news organizations, is running for the fourth year. Nearly 200 nonprofit newsrooms are participating in the matching-gift campaign, which drives donations to newsrooms across the country.

Through December 31, anyone — organizations, businesses, or individuals — can support journalists in nonprofit newsrooms and see the impact of their gift multiplied. Donations from individuals will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $1,000 and up to $20,000 per newsroom. That means your support will go twice as far to support news organizations that produce quality journalism: nonpartisan, fact-based, in-depth reporting on serious community issues.

KCUR Community Reporter Laura Ziegler visits residents of the Quindaro neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo. as part of the public radio station’s “Here to Listen” program. Photo: Brandon Parigo / KCUR 89.3

At Knight Foundation, our mission to support informed and engaged communities is our North Star. That tenet was behind Knight’s launch of NewsMatch in 2016. Since then, the campaign has reshaped the nonprofit news field, helping jumpstart small, emerging newsrooms, supporting newsrooms that are led by leaders from underrepresented communities, and strengthening both long-standing and fledgling investigative reporting organizations, centering their work around their public service mission on a daily basis. It’s a mission we’re proud to support — and we invite you to join us.

The long-term sustainability of the field of journalism depends on bringing more individuals and organizations into partnership with nonprofit newsrooms. In this critical time in our democracy, nonprofit news organizations will need to step into their role and fill needs for news in communities. This news can’t wait — and neither can we.

Nonprofit journalism informs. Nonprofit journalism matters. And nonprofit journalism is worth supporting. We hope you’ll join us as we continue to support these organizations and their critically important work.

Karen Rundlet is director for journalism at Knight Foundation.

Originally published at kf.org.


News for the people, with the people.


Nonprofit news can’t survive without your support. Since 2016, NewsMatch has helped raise over $100 million to jumpstart emerging newsrooms and support independent media outlets in the U.S. Learn more at newsmatch.org.

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