Foundation support for Media in the Philadelphia Region
In a “landmark agreement” announced at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on January 12, H.F. “Gerry”Lenfest gave the Philadelphia Media Network (PMN) – Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and the papers’ website – to the Institute for Journalism in New Media, which will operate under TPF Special Assets Fund, which is part of the Philadelphia Foundation. Lenfest also named the several outstanding academics and philanthropists he personally invited to be on the Institute’s Board of Managers.
Lenfest also endowed the Institute for Journalism in New Media, identified as a single-member limited liability company in PMN’s graphic depiction of the structure, with a $20 million gift. The Institute will be able to accept charitable contributions, including funding to pay for public interest journalism at Philadelphia Media Network.
Philadelphia Foundation president and CEO Pedro Ramos told the crowd:
“In a democracy, great cities need and depend on quality journalism.”
It seems unbelievable that among those planning this elaborate change, that no one discovered that foundation grants for Philadelphia-based organizations’ Journalism (capitalized here as a funding category) and made by grant makers based in the Philadelphia area total less than $8 million over the past five years. Or that most of the grants made were awarded by or made to affiliates of the board of managers.
Foundation support in the Philadelphia area for Media includes “supporting efforts to implement, research, and/or reform journalism, as well as infrastructure, education, and policy efforts that influence the public’s access to media”.
All figures shown below are for support given between 2011 and the present. (Data source: Foundations Funding Democracy, the Foundation Center, 2016) This includes several category and subordinate categories, including Journalism training/education; the figures below only pertain to Journalism as a subordinate.
Most of the grants for Journalism in the Philadelphia by grant makers based in Philadelphia were made by the William Penn Foundation (21 grants totaling $4,338,0000) and the Wyncote Foundation (26 grants totaling $2,618,785). The other significant Philadelphia-based foundations that made grants for Journalism are Philadelphia Foundation ($585,000) Comcast Foundation ($390,000) and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter
There is an intriguing twist: David Haas is the former chairman, William Penn Foundation, the vice-chair for Wyncote Foundation – and among the board of managers, Institute for Journalism in New Media. Haas is also on the board of Media Impact Funders, which was among recipients of grants for Journalism from Wyncote Foundation. David Boardman, also on the Institute’s board of managers, is Dean, School of Media and Communication, Temple University, which received grants totaling $1,241,035 since 2011 to the present. (Boardman was executive editor and senior vice-president,Seattle Times for 30 years before he accepted the position at Temple in 2013).
Below are the grants made for Journalism in Philadelphia and select other cities. (They do not necessarily include grant makers based in Philadelphia. William Penn Foundation did not appear on lists for New York City or Washington, DC as a grant maker for Journalism.)
- · Journalism in Philadelphia totaled $7,680,417 (recipients)
- · Journalism/Communications in Philadelphia $1,612,750 (criteria narrowed to “communications”)
- · Journalism in Washington, DC $142,096,02
- · Journalism in New York City, $65,006,775.
- · Journalism in the United States $394,830,451
What’s the plan?
How would the Institute’s fundraising plan increase that amount to support the public interest journalism at PMN? What is the Institute’s dollar goal for Individual gifts? With just a $1m goal, using a gift range calculator, it could require 528 prospects and 132 gifts.
The current recipients of foundation support may depend on these levels of funding. What’s next?
The recipients under Journalism, including those organizations based in Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, American University, Working Films, Newseum, Penn Praxis, Community Foundation of New Jersey, Resources for Human Development, Ceasefire Pennsylvania Education Fund, OMG Center for Collaborative Learning, WHYY, Next City, Drexel University, Media Impact Funders, Media Mobilizing, Juvenile Law Center, Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Committee of Seventy, Resolution, Inc., Zero Divide, Washington DC film festival, Persephone Productions, Center for Investigative Journalism, Center for Public Integrity and KQED.
The foundations which made these grants, including private and corporate foundations:
William Penn Foundation, Wyncote Foundation, Philadelphia Foundation, Omidyar Network, Surdna Foundation, Rita Allen Foundation, New Jersey Recovery Fund, Knight Foundation, John D. and Catherine McArthur Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Barra Foundation, Geraldine Dodge Foundation, Comcast Foundation, Public Welfare Foundation, NEO Foundation and Open Society Foundation. Open Society Foundation is George Soros’ money.
Solutions for funding public interest journalism at PMN?
The structure of this operation may be a solution – or not. The Institute for Journalism in New Media has a connection to the Philadelphia Media Network. By design, it will not make loans or provide support for deficits. Non-profit hospitals often have foundations which are separate entities that exist as supporting organizations. The Institute is not a supporting organization of the Philadelphia Media Network; it is a single-member limited liability company, a subsidiary of the Philadelphia Foundation, which controls all contributions.
This represents an informal scan of Philadelphia foundations with a history of grant-making for Journalism in the Philadelphia area and is not an exhaustive list of funding sources. However, it may be a fair measure of what to expect from local grant-makers with potential as a sustainable source of foundation funding – and it’s probably not enough. Wouldn’t the Institute need to have a cash reserve if its “funded” journalists were standing in a newsroom with the lights out? What then? It could not make loans to PMN or pick up a deficit, but would it be obligated to finish a grant-funded project?
It does not appear to be enough if the five Philadelphia-based grant makers re-directed all their funding over the next five years to support PMN’s journalism. How would the competing entities survive? There is a limited pool of funding sources to fulfill the needs of organizations that are already a priority for certain foundations.
Is this a democracy or an aristocracy? Without a campaign for sustainable support, the Institute role in supporting PMN’s journalism seems unlikely to succeed.