The Inquirer’s Parent Company Gets $1M to Fund Investigative Journalism, Diversity Efforts

The grant — among the first awards given by the new Lenfest Institute for Journalism — comes just weeks after the launch of Philly.com’s paywall.

lenfest

The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News newspapers sit on display on a newsstand in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The recently established Lenfest Institute for Journalism has announced the recipients of its first set of grant awards.

The nonprofit will distribute $2 million in funding to support diversity, innovation, and sustainability among journalism platforms and entrepreneurs in Philly, New York, California, Austin, and Cambridge, Mass. Half the money will benefit the institute-owned Philadelphia Media Network, parent company of the Inquirer, Philly.com and Daily News.

“We’re really trying to help build a renaissance of journalism across the ecosystem, not only PMN,” said Jim Friedlich, executive director of the Lenfest Institute. “We think there’s a digital news renaissance happening in Philadelphia, and we want to be very much a part of it.”

The PMN grants will go toward developing new digital products, fostering investigative and public-service journalism, and diversifying the company’s audience and newsroom. The boost comes several weeks after Philly.com launched a metered paywall.

Friedlich said one goal of the funding is to make the metered paywall “more successful.”

“When you charge people for your digital journalism, they have to be willing to pay for it,” Friedlich said. “The goal is to have news content that’s worth paying for and a digital product that’s worth paying for, and a broader and more diverse audience. Engagement equals payment, and [the grants] are all about engagement.”

The Lenfest Institute’s other $1 million in funding will go to a dozen companies and nonprofits and five “entrepreneurs in residence,” all chosen from a pool of more than 350 applicants.

The entrepreneurs – who were selected through what Friedlich calls a “venture philanthropy” approach – will work as a cohort while pursuing various individual projects, with goals such as developing data-driven news products, enhancing social video strategies, and deploying a new generation of journalists to serve local news organizations. They’ll share progress with one other, the public, PMN, and other grantees.

Recipients in Philly include WHYY, WURD Radio, the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, Technically Media, the Philadelphia Solutions Journalism Project, and MyNewPhilly founder and CEO Kyree Terrell.

Visit the Lenfest Institute’s website for a full list of grants and award winners.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.

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