Washington, D.C., June 16, 1999 -- The Pew Center for Civic Journalism has been granted $4.65 million by the Board of The Pew Charitable Trusts to continue its work for three more years as an incubator for innovative ideas that help journalists better engage people in public life.
The funding will enable the six-year-old center to continue supporting newsroom experiments, train journalists and build on lessons learned through September 2002.
"We now know that when you do journalism differently, readers and viewers notice. And that when you give them an opportunity to be involved in local issues, they take it," said Jan Schaffer, the Center's executive director. "We also know that when you support innovation, you get new ideas."
A goal of the Center has been to explore the news media's role in helping to re-engage people in discussing and solving problems in their community. "We have learned that core journalism values are not a barrier to helping citizens embrace the range of possibilities that keep democracy vital," Schaffer said.
The renewal comes as the news industry is reaching out for new ways to repair damaged credibility and to remain relevant and useful to readers, viewers and listeners. Research has shown that civic journalism has improved the public's attitude towards local news organizations. And, as civic journalists have experimented with new definitions of "news," they have produced more meaningful news and information.
The Pew Center, through its support of experiments in newsroom "laboratories," has evolved into an ad hoc research and development arm for news organizations.
The Center shares the results of these experiments through its workshops, publications, videos and other outreach programs. More than 1,700 journalists have attended 31 workshops on various aspects of civic journalism; more than 6,000 journalists and civic leaders now receive the Center's quarterly newsletter, and 148 news organizations have participated in 77 civic journalism initiatives supported by the Center.
The Center partners with several major print and broadcast news organizations. Major partners have included the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation, National Public Radio, PBS's Democracy Project, The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, the National Association of Black Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. The Tides Center of San Francisco administers the project.
The Pew Charitable Trusts, based in Philadelphia, make strategic investments to help organizations and citizens develop practical solutions to difficult problems. In 1998, with $4.7 billion in assets, the Trusts granted $213 million to 298 nonprofit organizations.