When H.F. Gerry Lenfest announced his donation of the Philadelphia Media Network – Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com – to the Philadelphia Foundation, it was a spectacular occasion. Held at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on January 12, the widely publicized event was led by Lenfest and Pedro Ramos, President/CEO, Philadelphia Foundation.
The donation had actually been made nearly a month before the announcement. Several days prior to making the donation, at Lenfest’s request, the Philadelphia Foundation established the Institute for Journalism, which is managed under its Special Assets Fund – which Lenfest then endowed with a $20 million gift. Lenfest proclaimed:
“Of all of the ventures I have been involved with in my life, nothing is more important than preserving the journalism that has been delivered by these storied news organizations.”
The publicity was almost a distraction from the transaction itself, how it came to be, the structure of the Philadelphia Media Network, the legal status of the Institute for Journalism in New Media, and the role of the Institute’s board. Identified by Lenfest as a nonprofit, the Institute’s function and its board’s intent were sometimes reported in vague terms among over 300 media outlets. The focus stayed on Gerry Lenfest’s philanthropy, the generosity of the gift, not its impact or how it would support – or not support – the publications.
The joint press release stated that the “endowment for the Institute will be able to receive additional donations from individuals, foundations, corporations and other entities for the mission of continuing journalism, all of which will be tax-deductible through The Philadelphia Foundation.”
The Institute for New Media is, however, a single-member limited liability company (LLC), not a stand-alone nonprofit. It was established in Pennsylvania and has tax-exempt status as an entity that is under the auspices of a tax-exempt entity, the Philadelphia Foundation. It is disregarded by the IRS as an entity separate from its owner. In this way, it can receive gifts as a tax-exempt entity.
When Lenfest made the announcement about the donation or the creation of the Institute, its Board of Managers had not met as a board, chosen a location or hired staff. Current reports that they have met twice since January, but have not hired staff.
As grant seekers know, one of the first questions prospective donors ask about a nonprofit enterprise, hybrid or not, is this:
“Who’s on your board?”
The Search is On: fill this job
The Institute initiated its search for an Executive Director through Media Jobs Connection at Poynter in March.
The Institute aims to grow its financial endowment in order to provide grants to PMN for specific public-service journalism initiatives as well as to applicants from universities and other entities that propose initiatives aimed at furthering local and regional public-service journalism in the digital age.
The posted job description states that the Executive Director will report to the Board and “drive the strategic discussions and executive programs and discussion that will push the boundaries of traditional journalism models.” Among responsibilities, he or she will “direct the Institute’s grant-application review and approval processes, seeking out funding opportunities, and developing collaborative funding strategies with like-minded organizations.”
How will the board of managers contribute the Institute of Journalism in New Media? The Institute is governed by the parent organization, the Philadelphia Foundation, and the board’s activities are limited by that relationship.
What’s on their “to-do” list?
- What about their individual backgrounds suggests what the Institute’s role will be in paying for public interest journalism to sustain the newspapers?
- Separate from accepting contributions from wealthy donors, will staff to reach out to middle-class donors, launch campaigns to support the journalism at PMN or implement other ways of reaching new contributors?
- How will they fit into the hybrid structure as the owners of PMN, for which they do not operate and have non-voting shares? PMN has been established as a benefits corporation – a for-profit with broader social goals. A public benefits corporation formed in Delaware is required to report to its shareholders on the benefits and progress; unlike other states, there is no requirement to share this report with the public.
- Legal scholars have suggested specific changes in the tax-code for newspaper corporations to become nonprofit organizations. Since the Institute is a single-member LLC and not a separate nonprofit corporation, will the Institute’s Board of Managers lobby for changes in legislation?
The Institute’s Board of Managers, selected by H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, includes:
- H.F. Gerry Lenfest, Chairman, Philadelphia Media Network, PBC
- David Schizer, Dean Emeritus and Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law and Economics, Columbia University
- David W. Haas, Vice Chair, The Wyncote Foundation
- David Boardman, Dean and Professor, School of Media and Communication, Temple University
- Steven W. Coll, Dean & Henry R. Luce Professor of Journalism, Columbia University, School of Journalism
- Sarah Bartlett, Dean, Graduate School of Journalism, City University of New York (CUNY)
- Michael X. Delli Carpini, Dean, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania
- Pedro A. Ramos, President and CEO, The Philadelphia Foundation
- Rosalind Remer. Vice Provost & Lenfest Executive Director, Center for Cultural Partnerships, Drexel University
- Leonard Tow, Founder and Chairman, The Tow Foundation
Who needs a resume?
These individuals may not need a resume, but a glance at their backgrounds clarifies why they were chosen and how they fit into Lenfest’s vision.
These brief biographical sketches may not predict how these amazing individuals will fulfill their roles on the Institute’s board, but a glance at their past activities should be instructive.
The Philadelphia Community Grants Examiner needs to know more about the Institute’s board of managers to analyze how it will vie for funding, especially in competition with other local nonprofit media entities.
Based on prior research, it does not appear there are a sufficient number of local foundations outside the circle of grant makers already on the Institute’s board.
In researching the background of each board member, the Philadelphia Community Grants Examiner considered their current role with the Institute based on:
- interest in media, including selected past and present activities;
- highlights of academic, professional and community achievements;
- experience with grant makers;
- perspective on charitable giving, based on written material, giving and fundraising;
- mutual contacts among the board and past owners of PMN, e.g., Brian Tierney
Alternate business models and other aspects of charitable giving are also briefly explored.
David Schizer, dean emeritus of Columbia Law School, who sits on the board of the Institute and PMN, has said this about the Institute’s plans:
“What we have in mind is funding for specific types of investigative journalism, for journalism we think of as having a particular type of public benefit associated with it.”
Schizer may not realize how few investigative journalism grants are available for this purpose, such as those recommended by the Global Investigative Journalism Networks.
He brings other expertise to his role, however. Among Schizer’s accomplishments, he is the author of “Subsidizing the Press” and “Subsidizing Charitable Contributions: Incentives, Information and the Private Pursuit of Public Goals.”
Schizer, a scholar in tax law, is the only person other than Lenfest who is on the Institute’s board of managers and on the board of Philadelphia Media Network/Public Benefits Corporation. Highly respected and accomplished in his field, Schizer participated in a roundtable at Columbia University that included Gerry Lenfest in November 2007 on taxing philanthropy. He has written 27 books and numerous publications; among these, Subsidizing the Press (Subsidizing the Press. Columbia Public Law & Legal Theory Working Papers. Paper 9191. 2010) explores how newspapers can be subsidized, either through government funding or charitable contributions. He asserts that direct government funding, if it results in a publication fearing to investigate or criticize government, would defeat the purpose of news. Charitable contributions would be a tax-deductible subsidy that would not wield the same weight of influence. He assuages fears of philanthropists having too much influence in Subsidizing the Press, asserting that there is not much difference between philanthropic dollars and owners and advertisers. Philanthropy is identified as a third class of support.
One can only speculate whether Schizer is so fixed in his perspective that he does not consider the role of philanthropists who vigorously distinguish their gifts from advertising. What about George Soros, who once said “foundations corrupt the influence that led to their foundation” – and whose philanthropic ventures are widely known, particularly through his Open Society Foundations, to seek influence? Is Schizer overlooking Bill Gates, whose private foundation activities are broadly scrutinized for attempting to change public policy, including education, through philanthropic deeds?
In “Subsidizing Charitable Contributions: Incentives, Information and the Private Pursuit of Public Goals.” (Draft, Columbia Law and Economics Working Paper No. 327. 2007) Schizer presents, in part, how encouraging generosity among wealthy donors is superior to motivating them based on their preferences, given that wealthy donors’ preferences might overwhelm popular ones. He acknowledges that wealthy people already have a “disproportionate influence over the market economy”, but the advantages of subsidized charitable giving are great enough that it is “the price we must pay.”
While limiting wealthy donors’ discretion on what get done, wealthy donors’ subsidies would continue to encourage their generosity. Schizer suggests that middle and lower income donors might give “without giving any money of their own” – it would be through receipt of a credit or generous subsidy.
Would this give middle and lower income donors the sense their lack of affluence, even when they regard themselves as financially stable, disregards their charitable goals? Pamela Wiepking and René Bekkers, faculty at the Center for Philanthropic Giving, analyzed about 500 multidisciplinary academic articles on charitable giving. (Wiepking, Pamela, and René Bakers. “Who gives? A literature review of predictors of charitable giving. Part Two: Gender, family composition and income.” Voluntary Sector Review 3.2 (2012): 217-245.) While their work does not negate Schizer’s insights, it does identify other important factors in charitable giving. Income is among several recognized mechanisms for giving, which include: awareness of need; solicitation; costs and benefits; altruism; reputation; psychological benefits; values; and efficacy. As exhaustive as their analysis might appear, the authors’ conclusions included recommendations for further research.
In The State of Nonprofit America (Salamon, Lester M. The state of nonprofit America. Brookings Institution Press, 2012), institutional philanthropy is presented as superior to individual giving. Considering institutional philanthropy to include foundations, corporations and federations, Salamon shows how individual contributions are enhanced through institutional giving and how the nonprofit sector benefits as well. He also comments that Michael Porter and Mark Kramer recognized this nearly twenty years ago (Porter, Michael E., and Mark R. Kramer. “Philanthropy’s new agenda: creating value.” Harvard business review 77 (1999): 121-131.). In this timeless article, Porter outlined how foundations can choose the best grantees, attract other funders, improve grantees’ performance and make giving more productive.
Introducing the Donor-Mentor
Schizer also suggests how donors can fill what he identifies as a need for monitoring quality in nonprofits – as donor monitors. He presents this prospective role as “a distinctive feature of subsidized charity that has not previously been recognized in the academic literature.”
For example, Schizer posits, although the “idealist nonprofit manager” may be passionate about their cause, he or she may not “have equally deep experience in crafting budgets, refining communications strategies, structuring departments, engaging in strategic planning, handling complicated subordinates, conducting periodic reviews, implementing governance systems, and the other nitty gritty that is second nature to successful entrepreneurs and for-profit managers.” (emphasis added) He describes the potential for a “highly synergistic” relationship between the donor and nonprofit manager.
While acknowledging the need for limits, Schizer suggests donors might have broad latitude:
“to contribute business acumen, advising the nonprofit manager on strategic questions, crisis management, and the day-to- day challenges of running an institution. Through these interactions, donors have ample opportunity to evaluate the performance of the nonprofit’s programs and senior management.”
Schizer may be correct about the scope of some donors’ for-profit business experience. However, the reason he may not have found his idea replicated in academic literature is because there are critical differences between nonprofits and for-profit corporations. In “What Business Execs Don’t Know – But Should – About Nonprofits, authors Les Silverman & Lynn Taliento emphasize that nonprofit leaders are already faced with “honoring the disparate concerns of many more groups”, including donors. A donor mentor with for-profit business experience has unique access to the nonprofit leadership
Peter Dobkin Hall makes an even more compelling argument (Hall, Peter Dobkin. “Philanthropy, the Nonpro½t Sector & the Democratic Dilemma.” 2013): “the unchallenged exercise of private power through philanthropy and the nonprofit sector poses grave threats to the democratic process.” The distinction between for-profit and non-profit entities was further muddled by the US Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United v Federal Election Commission ( 558 U.S. 310. 2010). In addition, the nondistribution rule for nonprofits became more expansive by 2000. The ease of becoming nonprofit added to the number of tax-exempt organizations at a time a growing number of nonprofits began relying more on earned income than donations. Would a donor mentor from the for-profit sector recognize why that is even a problem?
Legal perspectives outside the Institute for Journalism
Nikki Usher and Michelle Layser, in “The Quest To Save Journalism: A Legal Analysis Of New Models For Newspapers From Nonprofit Tax-Exempt Organizations To L3cs”, present several alternatives to the newspapers under the current commercial business model. They provide an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of a corporation becoming nonprofit.
- A nonprofit newspaper benefits from donors, not tax-exempt status, because newspapers are losing so much money, having deductibles is less a concern or attraction.
- More important, a print newspaper would need to show that its publishing advances its tax-exempt purpose. Examples cited by the authors included Christian Science Monitor (now significantly reduced in size) and Mother Jones. Still other for-profit newspapers, including the Washington Post (this was published prior to its sale) and Chicago Tribune, were noted for publishing content provided by nonprofit news media.
Nevertheless, Usher and Layser show the emphasis (in 2010) has remained on newspaper corporations becoming that tax-exempt and point to the risk-compensation theory advanced by legal scholar Nina Crimm. She advanced an alternative to the only prevailing academic theories for tax-exemption: income measurement; capital formation; altruism and donative. Risk compensation theory proposes that market failure and government failure demonstrate the need for tax-exempt organizations that are providing a public good. (Crimm, Nina J., An Explanation of the Federal Income Tax Exemption for Charitable Organizations: A Theory of Risk Compensation. Florida Law Review, Vol. 50, No. 3, July 1998; St. John’s Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-0110)
An L3C, a model preferred by Usher and Lasher, is a for-profit limited liability company which is organized to meet one or more charitable or educational purposes within the meaning of the Internal Revenue Code. Its social mission must take precedence. It can potentially help newspapers attract private foundations to make program-related investments. (Note: William Penn Foundation and Wyncote Foundation are private foundations.) Program related investments must fulfill the private foundation’s purpose. As of 2014, the number of new L3Cs exceeded new benefits corporations, but Stanford researchers pointed out this may have much to do with the administrative tasks of setting one or the other up in various states.
Sally Duros, former Chicago Sun-Times reporter, explained it concisely in the Huffington Post: “The L3C is different from a typical nonprofit because it can earn a return, but the social purpose must trump the financial purpose.”
In David Schizer’s role on the board of the Institute and the board of the PMN/PBC, would he encourage subsidizing the press congruous with his article’s points?
Is it unlikely he would advance a detailed position about subsidizing the press, only to abandon it now that he has a unique opportunity to see it realized?
How would wealthy donors’ preferences not influence the journalism?
How would a subsidy for lower to middle-income donors be implemented?
David Haas: Philadelphia stories revisited
David Hass was on the board of PMN and shifted to the Institute’s board when the donation was announced. He has shown an extensive interest in public interest journalism for over thirty years, which includes his interest in buying the newspapers in 2009. During that same year, he attended Duke University’s conference “The Road Ahead For Media Hybrids.”
In addition to his role as vice-chair, Wyncote Foundation, David Haas was also the chairman of the William Penn Foundation, board member, Media Impact Funders, (for which David Haas was steering committee chair and board chair under its founding name, Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media since 2002); board member, Stoneleigh Foundation, which was founded by his parents, John and Chara Haas; trustee, Phoebe Haas Charitable Trust; board member, Philadelphia Museum of Art (chaired by Gerry Lenfest 2001-2010). Haas was involved with the Philadelphia Independent Film/Video Association (PIFVA) between 1989 to 1997. He was also a founding director of WYBE in 1988, where he remained on the board through the 1990s.
Wyncote Foundation, in addition to other grant making, “supports public media & journalism efforts which further cultural expression, stimulate civic engagement in communities and provide essential information and analysis that are vital to a democratic society.”
If Wyncote Foundation’s recent grants provide a glimpse into David Haas’ perspective, grants made in 2012 included $2.2 million to a donor advised fund in the Seattle Foundation, $1.2 million to the Seattle Foundation for a donor-advised fund, $100,000 to Center for Public Integrity for its “Consider the Source” campaign finance project, $50,000 to the Center for Public Integrity for its state corruption follow-up report, $120,000 to Center for Public Integrity for general operating support, $30,000 to American University, Social Media Center, $50,000 to American University for a survey regarding public affairs journalism, and $235,000 to support Current newspaper upon its transfer to American University. Current subsequently credited Wyncote for sustaining its operations during the recession.
The assets of the William Penn Foundation, already sizeable, grew in 2009 when Dow Chemical bought the family business, Rohm & Haas; the deal was finalized in April 2009 .
The William Penn Foundation’s activities also show David Haas’ abiding interest in media. The William Penn Foundation funded the Next Mayor project, in which WHYY and the Daily News creation of stories about the policy issues in the 2007 mayor’s race. It also funded planphilly.com, a project of Newsworks.
When J-Labs evaluated Philadelphia’s bankrupt newspapers
David Haas was Chair, William Penn Foundation, in 2009, when it hired consulting firm J-Labs, “to map Philadelphia’s media landscape and make recommendations for how WPF could support more public affairs news and information.” Its evaluation of the media landscape included interviews with “more than 60 people,” who remained anonymous, between late June and October 2009.
J-labs final report, released in 2010, described the citizens’ opinion of the legacy media outlets:
”Simply put, people in Philadelphia are mad at the city’s dailies and most of their anger hones in on The Inquirer…”
J-Lab’s report castigated the newspaper for not reflecting the city’s significant minority population. One interviewee, a local journalism educator, dismissed it for having a staff of “middle-aged white guys who did journalism 30 years ago and think that’s the gold standard.”
The report included complaints of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s lack of depth in reporting, late stories – and missed stories. The Daily News review conveyed that most of the public affairs pieces were completed “by columnists, not reporters.” The Philly.com website was harshly assessed for sports, entertainment and sex “and for not originating much content, just packaging it.”
J-labs concluded that the city was otherwise ready to welcome a new “Golden Era of Journalism.” It recommended new media outlets, because “any new public affairs initiative has to be what is best for the citizens of Philadelphia – not what is best for any commercial news organizations or individual Web start-ups.”
J-labs final report, released in April 2010, does not mention contemporaneous events that may or may not have affected the newspapers’ quality.
- Philadelphia Media Holdings LLC – the newspapers – had filed for bankruptcy in February 2009.
- This was preceded by 100 layoffs of editorial and advertising staff in 2007 and 68 more non-newsroom positions the following year. It had filed for bankruptcy just a few months before J-Labs began conducting its interviews.
- Philadelphia Media Holding LLC had been purchased by public relations expert Brian Tierney and a group of investors in 2006; by 2009, it owed $400 million.
Philly Papers LLC: David Haas, Brian Tierney, Bruce Toll and Carpenter’s Union Pension Fund
While J-Labs was pillorying the Inquirer, in September 2009, David Haas divulged that he, Bruce Toll and Carpenter’s Union Pension Fund were among three investors – Philly Papers LLC – seeking to get the newspapers out of bankruptcy. Delaware business registration files indicate Philly Papers LLC was registered in the state of Delaware on August 5, 2009 (file number 4717142). David Haas said:
“I have long had a personal interest in the role of journalism as an important force in civic life – locally and nationally. . .. Because of the importance of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News to the region, I felt compelled to get involved.”
By 2010, J-lab’s efforts had resulted in a $2.4 million grant from the William Penn Foundation to start up a public interest entity, ultimately hosted by Temple University. Its lead project, Axis Philly, was a digital, “nonprofit news site with a mission to provide citizens of the Philadelphia region with high quality, multidimensional public interest news and information…to promote transparent and accountable civic leadership and engaged communities.” AxisPhilly’s work was recognized by the Online Journalism Association in 2013 with an Award for Excellence.
However, AxisPhilly lacked readers, sufficient local impact – and money. By July 2013, Neil Budde, its editor, resigned, citing lack of sufficient funds and unlikelihood of raising the additional $3 million needed from individual donors
“Temple pulls the plug on AxisPhilly”, reported Philly.com, in June 2014. David Boardman, dean of Temple’s School of Media and Communication, said the William Penn Foundation was not renewing funding. The would university not pursue other funding for AxisPhilly and would support “other journalism endeavors in the city”.
Wyncote Foundation continues to support journalism, including Hearken, which is an audience-driven journalism recently adopted by three NJ broadcasters. Through Hearken, audiences vote on stories they want reported and are regarded as “co-creators”.
David Haas has the interest in media and financial capacity to make grants and influence others, but will he choose to persuade other grant makers to support the journalism at PMN? Media Impact Funders received two grants of $75,000 grant from the Ford Foundation in 2013 for its group of funders “working broadly on media and technology issues to create social change.”
How will William Penn Foundation and the Wyncote Foundation contribute to the Institute’s advancement?
Having championed a failed venture in Axis Philly, is he confident in the capacity of the Institute for Journalism in New Media or possibly as disinterested in the outcome for the newspapers as he was when J-Labs reported on the angst of 60 people?
David Boardman was described as “irreplaceable” when he left the Seattle Times after 30 years and became Dean, School Of Media Communication, at Temple University in 2013. He is on the board of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting, which is based in California and publishes online as Reveal news.
While Boardman was at the helm at the Seattle Times won four Pulitzer Prizes:
- for coverage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1990;
- for investigation of abuses in the federal tribal-housing program in 1997;
- for “breaking news” coverage of the assignations of four police officers in 2010;
- and for investigative reporting in its series that showed how state policies led to hundreds of unnecessary drug-overdose deaths.
Other accolades include the Goldsmith Prize in Investigative Reporting from Harvard University, the Worth Bingham Prize in Investigative Reporting, the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award and the Associated Press Managing Editors Public Service Award. President of the American Society of News Editors, Boardman is also the president-elect of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, chairman of the National Advisory Board of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, and a Poynter Ethics Fellow.
Boardman also launched a relationship with the Gates Foundation, which contributed to Education Lab, a Times’ project focused on unrelenting problems in public education. This was not without controversy: Gates Foundation has strong opinions about education which it expresses through millions in grants to advance Common Core across the nation.
He is also a charter member of the Advisory Board of ProPublica, the investigative-journalism nonprofit, which was founded by the Sandler Foundation to produce investigative journalism. Herb Sandler and his wife promised to support it with $10 million annually.
Consider the donors Boardman may engage – or not?
The John D. and Catherine McArthur Foundation, ‘Atlantic Philanthropies and the JEHT Foundation were also early contributors to ProPublica, as well as the Open Society foundations, which are part of George Soros’ activities.
- Open Society considers grants for independent journalism on an ongoing basis.
- John D and Catherine McArthur Foundation “supports the production and distribution of news and documentary programs for television, radio, and the web that help inform the American public about important domestic and international current affairs and policy issues.” Its recent media projects include support of Dawn Porter’s “Trapped”, described as a documentary about reproductive rights in the deep south.
- Atlantic Foundation – was created by Chuck Feeney, the inspiration for Warren Buffett’s giving pledge. Feeney amassed a fortune through his business, set up a foundation in 1984 and will have given away more while alive than anyone before him – $7.5 billion – when the Atlantic Foundation shuts down this year (2016). Given an award honoring his philanthropy in 2012, Feeney made the wry comment that “giving while dead, you don’t feel anything.” He has made contributions to education, health, science and human rights around the world. Most recently, Atlantic Foundation, AARP, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation collectively gave a total of $8.7 million to support the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers’ national center for complex disease.
- JEHT – Justice, Equality, Human and T – was started up in 2000 by Jean-Levy Church, a movie producer and heiress, and closed as a philanthropic entity as of 2009. It supported community-organizing, advocacy-lobbying, and media campaigns through its principal programs – Community Justice and International Justice. Jean-Levy Church was a financial victim of Bernie Madoff, which forced shutting down JEHT in 2009. While it was still operation, JEHT supported Public Service Media, also known as New American Media, a nationwide association of 3,000 “ethnic media” outlets across the country and headquartered in San Francisco, California.
While still operational, JEHT had retained Wolf-Brown, a consulting firm, to evaluate a “Right to Vote” initiative regarding ex-felons in the electoral process.
Coincidentally, the Center for Public Integrity recently reported on restoring ex-felons voting rights. It is funded by many foundation supporters, including the Wyncote Foundation, for which David Haas is vice-chair.
Will David Boardman influence any of these foundations to pay for the journalism at PMN?
Sarah Bartlett, who became Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism, City University of New York, in 2014, is also a journalist with a diverse background, earnest in her profession. She was a reporter for the New York Times, often covering Wall Street, between 1988 and 1992, and author of The Money Machine: How KKR Manufactured Power & Profits (Warner Books, 1991), which specifically addresses how Wall Street may use its financial position to influence the press. This publication was variously praised, ignored (by Kravis Brothers) and harshly criticized.
She was also an assistant managing editor at Business Week, Editor-in-Chief of Oxygen Media and Bloomberg Chair in Business Journalism at Baruch College before joining the faculty at CUNY.
In describing her impressions of fundraising at CUNY, Bartlett said:
“I am pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy fundraising. It was a genuine reaction to meeting with foundations and individual donors as we were raising money for the Community and Ethnic Media Center. There’s something very appealing about spending a couple of hours talking to someone about the work we’re doing, watching them get excited, and listening to them offer ways to help. I love nothing more than opening an envelope and finding a check inside.”
The announcement of her becoming Dean included reference to the fact she created the Center for Community and Ethnic Media and raised over $2 million dollars.
When she was director of CUNY’s Urban Reporting program, Bartlett authored a riveting white paper, “Getting the Word out (Or Not): How and Where NYC Advertises,” with Guy Pierre-Pierre, Executive Director, Community and Ethnic Media Center (2013). This detailed report noted that New York City’s $70 billion budget includes an advertising budget of $18 million, 82% spent on mainstream publications. At the same time, there were 270 ethnic publications in the New York City region that were published in 36 languages.
This report made recommendations about reaching these other audiences, including the Mayor’s office making diversity in its advertising a priority.
- It also highlighted a provision in federal civil rights law that requires information be made available in foreign languages.
- In related activities, the Center also started up a vibrant training program for ethnic journalists, covering everything from reporting to podcasts.
Foundation support included Charles Revson Foundation of $125,000 over two years, for the “Revson Foundation Ethnic and Community Media Training Program”.
In interviews following the announcement of the Institute for Journalism in New Media, Bartlett had this response to Aldia’s questions about the Institute:
“I came to this project very favorably and when I met with [Lenfest] him and learned sort of the nature of what he was attempting to do I was just so impressed with his determination to keep the publications strong and understanding their role in the community.”
Is Sarah Barlett more likely to suggest reaching ethnic audiences than to solicit gifts? It may be a while before she opens an envelope and finds a check inside.
Steve Coll, is an academic, a staff writer at The New Yorker, the author of seven books of nonfiction, and a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. He was managing editor at the Washington Post between 1998 and 2005. In 2005, he joined The New Yorker, where he has written on international politics, American politics and national security, intelligence controversies and the media.
In the context of researching his background for the Institute’s board, it was surprising to learn that Coll had written a story for the New Yorker in which he described the for-profit St. Petersburg Times, owned by the Poynter Institute, as a “nonprofit foundation”. It was in 2008, and Paul Tash, the editor of the Times, chairman and CEO of the Times Publishing Company, and chairman of the board of trustees of the Poynter Institute, swiftly wrote a letter to the New Yorker to correct him.
This does not disqualify Coll from being a valuable member of the Institute’s board of managers. Among published works , Coll is the author of “Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001,” published in 2004, for which he received an Overseas Press Club Award and a Pulitzer Prize. “Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power,” was recognized with the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Award as the best business book of 2012.
Coll also served as president of the New America Foundation, a public-policy institute, for five years, 2007-2012. It describes itself as “dedicated to big ideas and lively conversation. It is an initiative of New America, an independent and non-ideological organization that invests in new thinkers, breakthrough research and policy innovation to address the most important challenges facing the United States and the world.”
New America Foundation’s major donors have included: David and Lucile Packard Foundation; Pew Charitable Trusts; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Aetna Foundation; Arizona State University; BlackRock, Inc. ;California Endowment; The Nathan Cummings Foundation; The Emerson Fund Foundation for Child Development ;Foundation to Promote Open Society; Google; The James Irvine Foundation; John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Lumina Foundation; Charles Stewart Mott Foundation ;The New York Community Trust; Open Society Institute; Peter G. Peterson Foundation; Bernard and Irene Schwartz; and the Wyncote Foundation. His fellow Institute of Journalism for New Media board member, David Haas, is vice-chair of the Wyncote Foundation.
Notably, between 2009 and 2013, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave New America Foundation grants totaling $6,530,000. The subject of one of these grants was for policy options for states while they developed Common Core standards.
Will Steve Coll engage the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support the journalism at PNC? The Gates have made exceptional gifts to promote their causes, including Common Core Standards. Even though the US Department of Education has warned public schools that 95% of their students must take mandated standardized tests, a vigorous movement against its includes Philadelphia Opt-Out.
If the opportunity presented itself, could the Institute for Journalism in New Media accept a grant from the Gates Foundation to investigate factions against Common Core standards without compromising PMN’s objectivity?
Rosalind Remer is the Lenfest Executive Director of the Center for Cultural Partnerships at Drexel University. After teaching history at Moravian College for 14 years, she became involved with the National Constitution Center, followed by the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary. She then founded Remer & Talbott, a consulting firm serving museums, libraries, universities, historic sites, and other non-profits. She joined Drexel in 2013 and subsequently received an award in the amount of $1,000,000 from the H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest Group for “Lenfest Match-Heritage Tourism Project.”
This past October, prior to the donation of the newspapers, Drexel and Philadelphia Media Network announced development of a news app with a primary purpose of serving millennials better. Three months before the newspapers would be donated to the Philadelphia Foundation, when Gerry Lenfest said, “This revolutionary approach benefits the students, our company and our journalism. It will help ensure that current and future generations of young adults – indeed, all adults – will get the news they want in the way they want it.”
In April 2015, Gerry Lenfest was named Business Leader of the Year by Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business. He had previously been distinguished by Drexel with an honorary degree, as an entrepreneur and philanthropist, in 2013.
Michael X. Delli Carpini
Michael X. Delli Carpini, Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication joined the University of Pennsylvania faculty in July of 2003. Previously, he was Director of the Public Policy program of the Pew Charitable Trusts, a member of the Political Science Department at Barnard College and graduate faculty of Columbia University. He started his career as Assistant Professor in the Political Science Department at Rutgers University. Among publications, he is the author of After Broadcast News: Media Regimes, Democracy, and the New Information Environment, with Bruce Williams. New York, Cambridge University Press, 2011.
In an interview with the Daily Pennsylvanian on January 23, Carpini said that the Institute’s board had not had an official meeting. He became interested in the Institute, based on its relevance to his own scholarly research, which is “the impact of media on democratic engagement.” He appears less concerned about the finances and sees money as “only part of the equation” :
“Only time will tell, but my experience in the area of philanthropy is that if you are addressing important issues, have good ideas, and can show results, people and organizations are willing to support you.”
Leonard Tow was Chief Executive Officer of New Century Holdings LLC, an outdoor advertising company, since January 2005. A cable pioneer, he sold his Los Angeles company for $5.2 biollion in 1999. He and his wife signed the Gates/Buffett “Giving Pledge” to give away half their fortune in 2012. Dr. Tow also serves as Chairman of the Tow Foundation, a trustee of the Brooklyn College Foundation, a trustee of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and a member of the board of the Lincoln Center Theater.
The Tow Foundation is interested in funding projects that extend benefits and reforms to underserved populations. A representative project is the Tow Juvenile Justice Media Project of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice (CMCJ) 2011 – 2015, with this purpose: “to create a learning community and provide resources and support to 30 journalists from various media outlets around the U.S. The goals of this project are to raise awareness of juvenile justice issues through quality media coverage, advance policy reform and improve the public debate through compelling stories and analysis from an informed media.”
The Center on Media, Crime and Justice (CMCJ), housed at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY) since 2006, is the nation’s only practice- and research-oriented think tank devoted to encouraging and developing high-quality reporting on criminal justice, and to promoting better-informed public debate on the complex 21st-century challenges of law enforcement, public security and justice in a globalized urban society.
His foundation’s assets currently total about $195 million. center for sustainable energy at Columbia University, have been the principal supporter of Teach for America in Philadelphia and have given to over a hundred other cases during that period.
The Tow School of Journalism at Columbia University may have a pivotal role in the Institute’s recognition, if not its funding sources. Emily Bell, the Tow School
Pedro Ramos is President, Philadelphia Foundation and on the board of managers, Institute for Journalism in New Media. He was effusive in his praise for Gerry Lenfest:
“The distinctiveness of this structure and agreement between our organizations, coupled with the incredible generosity of Gerry, will contribute to the sustainability of great independent journalism for Philadelphia.”
Ramos left his role as a partner at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, LLP to join the Philadelphia Foundation in July 2015. He was previously President, Philadelphia School Board, City Director and Managing Director in the City of Philadelphia. A University of Pennsylvania alum, he was interested in community activism as youngster, especially for education. While at Penn, he developed the Latino Living-Learning program.
The structure of the Philadelphia Foundation has its President on the board and also on the Special Assets board about 1/5 of the time; in fact, the boards are identical. Ramos is not on the board of the Philadelphia Media Network/PBS, which the Institute owns (and which is owned, in turn, by the Special Assets fund, which a component part of the Philadelphia Foundation.)
H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest
Mr. Lenfest’s profile will become available in a separate article.
Institute for Journalism in New Media
How this board fulfills the mission of the Institute for Journalism in New Media remains to be realized. While each of these individuals is notable in their field, the board does not seem to recognize the urgency of having a realistic fund raising plan. It is not clear if they are aware of what funders will want to know about them, their commitment to the Institute and the organization’s structure.
Most recently, in an interview with Current, board member Rosalind Remer stated that the board will design protocols for fundraising which will be carried out by Institute staff. She further opined about the Institute’s fundraising:
“The institute will not engage in general fundraising, but instead look for funds to assist in supporting specific projects as they arise, in order to maximize support.”
When asked about competing for funds, Remer seemed unconcerned:
“While we may look to some of the same funders for specific projects, it’s likely we will be identifying potential funders with a specific focus on journalism and innovation in journalism, some of which have never, or rarely, funded projects in Philadelphia. It could be argued that we could be broadening the pool of potential support by looking beyond Philadelphia.”
There is a limited pool of funds, and it’s nearly May – six months since the Institute was formed in December 2015.
Board Source urges new board members to understand their responsibilities. Although the Institute is not a conventional nonprofit, is the board willing to meet with prospective major donors? Are the members conversant about expectations funders are likely to have about the structure and other support for a project?
The Foundation Center, similarly suggests boards acquaint themselves with what to expect in fundraising responsibilities.
At Indiana University, Lilly School of Philanthropy, research publications include a series on high-net worth individuals and what motivate them to give; they want to see impact and know they are making a difference. If the board does not educate itself, funders will turn to equally prestigious board members from another organization.
Can the board members explain the structure of the Institute in way that makes it clear funds will not fall into a black hole? While this board may not regularly interact with prospective funders, its members capacity to present the Institute’s case could be crucial to getting the attention of certain funders. There are thousands of worthy causes, and the fundraising process can take time.
The Institute has a dynamic new mission, one that is untested; this can be an advantage – or a disadvantage – in seeking support from certain funders. Other funders will not write a check for an endowment fund.
At a Philanthropy Roundtable, (Spring 2014) Lenfest spoke of his vision for the newspapers:
I think eventually it would be wonderful if nonprofits would own newspapers. And they’re allowed to do that in the U.S. code now, to take in that kind of revenue. Eventually I foresee foundations taking ownership of newspapers. Newspapers don’t have to be limited to the paper. In the digital age, it doesn’t make any difference in what form the journalism takes place, but the journalism is the key to it—the coverage, in a responsible way, of local news. And investigative reporting.
The Institute board needs a plan to get there.