Feb 19, 2019

Pledges to save local news reach nearly $1 billion

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nearly $1 billion has been committed to saving local news in America over the next several years, as the country grapples with the consequences of less local coverage and accountability.

Why it matters: Despite valiant efforts, there's still no real business model for local news to continue to operate the way it has been for decades. Many of these donations, however, are being used to fund the research and development of sustainable business models for local news.

The big picture: While some smaller, local digital operations have found ways to drive profits, larger local newspaper and TV companies continue to shutter, consolidate or reduce headcount.

Driving the news: The Knight Foundation today said it would double its commitment to local news, donating $300 million via Knight’s endowment over the next five years, doubling its previous commitment.

  • "By investing in local news and providing journalists and news organizations with the tools and training that they need to prosper, we will help them pave a path to long-term sustainability," says Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism.

By the numbers The Knight Foundation's efforts are reminiscent of those from Google and Facebook, both of which have pledged over the past year to give $300 million to local journalism efforts over the next three years. They join several smaller efforts dedicated to bolstering local news, including...

  • WordPress, the content management tech company owned by web development giant Automattic, said it was investing six figures in The News Project in January to help bolster local news.
  • Local education site Chalkbeat gets hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from organizations like the Walton Family Foundation and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Donors at the local level have been supporting individual local outlets, like The Gothamist.
  • States like New Jersey are setting aside millions of dollars to invest in local news projects.

Go deeper

Virginia governor announces removal of Richmond's Robert E. Lee statue

Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Thursday that the state will remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond's historic Monument Avenue.

Why it matters: It's a watershed moment for Virginia, which has been at the center of a years-long national debate about whether Confederate monuments should be displayed publicly. That discussion reached a boiling point when protests about a statue of Lee in Charlottesville turned violent in 2017.

RNC expands convention search across the Sun Belt

Donald Trump, Mike Pence and their families on the last night of the Republican National Convention in Ohio in 2016. Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images.

The Republican National Committee is planning site visits over the next 10 days to more than a half-dozen cities — across the South and into Texas and Arizona — as it scrambles for a new convention host, people familiar with the internal discussions tell Axios.

Driving the news: The RNC's executive committee voted Wednesday night to allow most of the convention to move — with only a smaller, official portion remaining in Charlotte — after North Carolina's governor said the coronavirus pandemic would mean a scaled-back event with social distancing and face coverings.

Oil faces tough road back from coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Oil companies in the battered shale patch are starting to bring back some production as prices climb, but a new report underscores how the pandemic is taking a heavy financial toll despite signs of revival.

Driving the news: Fourteen North American producers have filed for bankruptcy thus far during the second quarter, per a tally from the law firm Haynes and Boone, which closely tracks the sector's finances.