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Within the span of a few weeks, the award-winning staff of the Charleston Gazette-Mail has witnessed both the dismal reality of newspapers’ finances, and a possible hope for the future.
On January 30, the newspaper announced it was ending more than a century of family ownership and heading into Chapter 11 bankruptcy court, awaiting purchase by a new buyer. But in the weeks preceding that shocker, the Charleston staff learned it would receive philanthropic support for two news-side reporters in 2018.
While that may seem modest compared to a looming sale, the money, from Report for America and ProPublica, will cover about 15 percent of the Gazette-Mail’s news reporting salaries (excluding features and sports reporters). And it becomes the latest example of how philanthropy is becoming an ever-larger part of the revenue streams of newspapers and other for-profit news companies.
The West Virginia paper is one of seven news organizations being subsidized by ProPublica to intensify investigative reporting over the next year. Separately, it’s one of three participants in a Report for America pilot program that will shine a spotlight on life in Appalachia. Report for America, run by the nonprofit GroundTruth Project, has big aspirations: By 2022, it hopes to field 1,000 reporters at newspapers, broadcast outlets, and digital-native news shops across the country.
In an interview with Report for America co-founder Steven Waldman, I suggested that the 1,000-reporter number might be the equivalent of 10 percent or more
Read more here: https://www.cjr.org/local_news/newspapers-philanthropy.php