06 Sep Introducing Press Forward, a national effort to revitalize local news
Across this country, newsrooms are shrinking at an alarming pace. Local papers are closing at a rate of two per week, leading to news deserts throughout the United States. We feel the impact of this profoundly here in Miami. Even our Pulitzer Prize-winning Miami Herald had over 400 journalists in its newsroom just two decades ago. Today, the reporting staff is a quarter of that number. It is incredibly hard to keep a community informed and engaged with such diminished capacity, and all of us ultimately pay the price.
The “terminal decline” of local journalism has grave consequences for communities. Information gaps, confusion, misinformation, and increased divisiveness proliferate. Local news reporters are a vital check on the power of local governments that have virtually no oversight when no one reports on their decisions. Across every priority area from health crises to environmental changes, the number one concern we hear from experts is that they wish people had better access to accurate information.
It is time for all of us to stand together.
Today, 22 national, local and regional foundations are coming together to launch Press Forward, a historic initiative to revitalize and reimagine local news with $500 million already committed, and a goal to bring many additional partners to the fold. Press Forward will be investing in the bright spots and emerging models that have developed over the past decade around the U.S., while also taking bets on a new generation of leaders and working to close longstanding inequalities in news coverage. We are incredibly proud at The Miami Foundation to be housing this national initiative which we know will have a profound impact not only on our own community, but for communities across the nation.
The power of collective impact – bringing many partners together to solve an issue more powerfully than could be done alone – is one of the core leadership values of our Foundation. This is the muscle we used in co-founding Miami Connected to bring the internet to all unconnected youth during COVID. It is what drove us to spearhead the Support Surfside consortium, our Disaster Resilience Fund, and our Music Access initiative. We do this every year hosting Give Miami Day to mobilize tens of thousands of donors to stand together.
Together, we have the power to create change at scale.
Miami is center stage for so many national issues, from immigration to climate resilience, and it is important that we ensure our voice is at the table helping shape important national solutions. We are excited for this local news initiative to fuel innovation that impacts our community, and to help propel serious problem solving that impacts the rest of our country as well.
Charlene Esserman (center) announces the establishment of the Esserman-Knight Journalism Prize, along with daughter Laura Esserman and former Knight Foundation VP/Journalism Jennifer Preston. Photo courtesy of Knight Foundation
Miami philanthropists have been taking action to address the health of local news for a long time. Knight Foundation, one of the founding partners of this initiative, has been a leading champion for local news for decades. The Esserman family, the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Family Foundation and The Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation have included journalism in the many vital causes they support, providing funding for coverage on critical topics like climate change, the arts and government accountability reporting.
Together with a growing list of partners, with fundraising leadership from John Palfrey, president of the MacArthur Foundation, and Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of Knight Foundation, the group has already mobilized $500 million, with a goal of ultimately doubling that amount to fuel lasting change for local journalism.
We’d love for local donors to become Press Forward partners, whether contributing to a national fund or supporting local initiatives here in Miami. If you’d like to contribute, please contact our team.
Press Forward will be one of the most important philanthropic collaborations of our generation. We’re proud to help power it. Join us in this moment and this movement.
– Rebecca Fishman Lipsey, President and CEO, The Miami Foundation
Grantmaking for Press Forward will begin in 2024. Sign up for updates at pressforward.news