Convening: Nonprofit Journalism and the Role of Philanthropy

2 | Presentations


Evan Smith, Executive Editor and CEO of the Texas Tribune, speaks about nonprofit journalism before a gathering of the Kansas Grantmakers In Health Trustees.

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A discussion of the role of grantors in supporting nonprofit journalism was hosted today by the Sunflower Foundation and the Kansas Health Institute at a gathering of the Kansas Grantmakers in Health trustees.

Four presentations and a panel-led discussion were featured focusing on existing nonprofit journalism enterprises, including the Texas Tribune, the California HealthCare Foundation's Center for Health Reporting, the KHI News Service, and various media funded by the Colorado Health Foundation, by the Sunflower Foundation and by the HealthCare Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

Keynote speaker Evan Smith, Editor in Chief and CEO of the Texas Tribune, said foundation support as well as commercial sponsorship and individual contributions — totaling about $5 million last year — make possible his organization's statewide coverage of public affairs.

"Across the board, we have worked closely with foundations to support the kind of public interest journalism that we do: aggressive, entrepreneurial, robust, multi-platform journalism, which would not exist but for those resources. Through a combination of (foundation) support, corporate support, and individual support we have been able to build a sustainable model," Smith said.

"It's absolutely, 100 percent sustainable — we can make this work," he said. "I can tell you it's been the most gratifying work of my life, and on behalf of everybody at the Tribune, to all of you in the community foundations who support work like this, we can't tell you enough how important your generosity is to allowing us to achieve what we achieve.

"I've said from the very beginning: in journalism these days, you either hang separately or survive together. None of us can afford to live within the old competitive sets that once defined our business," Smith said. "So we have to be looking to work with people that we once competed with on a regular basis to figure out how to get the public's good advanced ahead of any of our own individual efforts."

Materials from the convening

Panelists and presentations:

• Keynote: Evan Smith, Editor in Chief and CEO of the Texas Tribune — view presentation video on YouTube or audio-only version (to download, right-click + save as).

Jim McLean, Executive Editor of the KHI News Service — view or download presentation.

Amy Latham, Portfolio Director for the Colorado Health Foundation — download presentation slides as PPTX or PDF.

Richard Kipling, Managing Editor of the California HealthCare Foundation's Center for Health Reporting — read his recent blog on the role of philanthropy in non-profit journalism.

Reports cited:

• "Annual Report on American Journalism, 2013" from the Pew Research Center. View report at

• "Journalism and Media Grant Making: Five Things You Need to Know" from the Knight Foundation and the William Penn Foundation. Download PDF.

→ More photos from the event posted at


philcauthon (Phil Cauthon)June 14, 2013 at 3:35 p.m.

The May 10 episode of On The Media — "Who's Gonna Pay For This Stuff?" — is all about the incredible volume of media available to consumers, and the incredible difficulty of making money for creators:

philcauthon (Phil Cauthon)July 5, 2013 at 10:28 a.m.

Another interesting segment from On The Media, about the tendency for reporting on politics and medical science to lend legitimacy to dishonest claims:

The segment is from this podcast, which is all very interesting:

Excerpt: "You don't see (this problem) in business. If someone came along and said 'Hey everyone, my company is actually as valuable as Apple.' No business reporter would write a piece saying 'John Doe, who just started this company, claims his company is as valuable as Apple. Apple computers says actually it has more cash than any other company in the world' — because it would be ridiculous. But you do get that in science and medicine and in politics. When someone makes an outrageous claim and journalists act as if coming down and saying that's false — or not even reporting it because it's demonstrably false — would someone mean that they are taking a side. That's a ridiculous notion."

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