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Press Forward could provide the inflection point local news needs
By Lance Knobel
September 8, 2023

I think there’s a good chance that Press Forward, officially announced on Sept. 7, can be a real inflection point for nonprofit local news.

Many foundations, and certainly most individual philanthropists, don’t think about journalism as something that needs philanthropic support. When I add Cityside to charity databases, there is never a category for journalism. When I speak to people in wealth management, they say none of their clients have ever raised journalism as a philanthropic priority. The number one job we have in nonprofit journalism is making that case, doing the evangelizing.

Local journalism is a key part of our civic and democratic infrastructure. It’s no coincidence that the deterioration of our democracy and the growth of intolerance tracks the decline of local journalism.

A major effort like Press Forward might unlock some doors and get people thinking about the place of local news in our society. It can build on the great work of American Journalism Project, the years of investment by the Knight Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation and plenty of local, place-based foundations.

Of course, I want to see people support Cityside and our Oaklandside and Berkeleyside newsrooms (with more to come!). But there are an increasing number of fantastic local nonprofit newsrooms just about everywhere. I’m happy to point you in the right direction if you want to give locally!

So hallelujah for Press Forward!

One side note: MacArthur’s John Palfrey, who has been leading the charge for Press Forward, has some little-known chops in the new information world. I remember him at the inaugural BloggerCon in 2003 at Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University under the guidance of Dave Winer. So 20 years later, here we are!

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