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Philanthropy in Journalism

In early 2012, journalists, philanthropists and community leaders from around the country gathered at Arizona State University to discuss the role of philanthropy in the future of accountability journalism.

The symposium, sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, was one of a series of events held at leading universities across the country to follow up on a 2011 Federal Communications Commission report, “Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age.” The report has been described as the most comprehensive examination of media policy in the U.S. in a generation.

At the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, more than a dozen award-winning journalists, philanthropists and thought-leaders addressed one of the key elements of that report: how local accountability journalism affects the information health and civic engagement of communities as well as the commission’s suggestion “that more foundations, philanthropists and citizens consider thinking about news media differently than in the past.”

Their discussions are captured on this site and in a report authored by Leonard Downie Jr., Weil Family Professor at the Cronkite School and vice-president at-large of The Washington Post. We hope that by making this information available to a national audience, we can engage more stakeholders, including philanthropists, journalists and the general public, in a further exploration of a subject vital to the future of American journalism.

Christopher Callahan
Dean, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Arizona State University

The session videos require QuickTime, which is a free download from Apple.

Making a Difference: Local Accountability Journalism

Welcoming address presented on Feb. 2, 2012.
Leonard Downie Jr., Weil Family Professor of Journalism, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication; vice president-at-large of The Washington Post


Journalism the Nonprofit Way

A panel featuring editors, leaders and founders of nonprofit accountability journalism organizations in a discussion about the importance of accountability journalism to a community.

Panelists: Andrew Donohue, editor, voiceofsandiego.org; Joel Kramer, CEO and editor, MinnPost; James O’Shea, CEO and editor, Chicago News Cooperative; Evan Smith, CEO and editor-in-chief, The Texas Tribune; Laura R. Walker, president and CEO, New York Public Radio; and Sharon Walsh, editor, PublicSource

Moderator: Leonard Downie Jr., Weil Family Professor of Journalism, Cronkite School; vice president-at-large, The Washington Post

Panelist profiles


Serving Communities by Supporting Nonprofit Accountability Journalism

A panel featuring representatives from community and national foundations that are actively involved in supporting local accountability journalism efforts. The discussion focused on how these funding organizations became involved with various local nonprofit journalism organizations and projects and why they view support for accountability journalism as important to their community and philanthropic mission.

Panelists: Sue Hale, media consultant, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation; Terry Mazany, president and CEO, Chicago Community Trust; Grant Oliphant, president and CEO, The Pittsburgh Foundation; Jim Pitofsky, chief strategy officer, Arizona Community Foundation; and Julie Sandorf, president, Charles H. Revson Foundation

Moderator: Sandra Mims Rowe, Spring 2012 Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor in Journalism Ethics, Cronkite School; former editor, The (Portland) Oregonian

Panelist profiles


The Role of Universities in Local Accountability Journalism

A luncheon conversation with Leonard Downie Jr. and Christopher Callahan, dean, Cronkite School.


Keeping Local Accountability Journalism Alive

A discussion about the long-term financial sustainability of nonprofit accountability journalism organizations and projects.

Panelists: Kevin Davis, CEO and executive director, Investigative News Network; Laurie Kramer, chief revenue officer, MinnPost; Robert “Rosey” Rosenthal, executive director, Center for Investigative Reporting; and Buzz Woolley, president, Girard Foundation

Moderator: James T. Hamilton, Charles S. Sydnor Professor of Public Policy, Duke University; director, DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy

Panelist profiles