The Engaged Journalism Lab will be focused on organizations supported by the nonprofit Democracy Fund. The project was recently announced by the Democracy Fund, a grant giving foundation established by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar:
The ability of journalism to serve as our Fourth Estate—to be a check and balance on government and powerful interests—is under increasing threat. Journalism today faces multiple challenges: a faltering business model with shrinking resources; a political environment in which they find themselves under attack; and a climate of deep distrust by the American people.
In a 2017 survey, the Poynter Institute, a Democracy Fund grantee, found that only 49% of Americans have a great deal or a fair amount of trust in the media. We believe this distrust is connected to another problem: journalism’s lack of deep engagement with its audience, exacerbated by news organizations whose staff and coverage do not represent the communities they serve.
At Democracy Fund, one of our goals is to ensure that every American citizen has access to audience-centered, trusted, resilient journalism. To meet this goal, we are working to build a media landscape that truly serves the public interest. Through our Public Square Program, we support projects and organizations that enable newsrooms to build meaningful, trusted relationships with their communities through audience-driven storytelling, inclusion, and transparency. We call this work “Engaged Journalism” and have seen firsthand how practical investments in these organizations and ideas can have a transformative effect on newsrooms.
As a part of this effort, we’re re-launching the Democracy Fund Engaged Journalism Lab on Medium. The Engaged Journalism Lab will focus, not on how to get a grant from Democracy Fund, but rather on what our grantees and partners are doing and learning. We’ll also discuss the big ideas shaping the field and shine a spotlight on the people helping to make journalism more collaborative and engaged with its community. We hope it will serve as a resource for those working at the intersection of media and democracy.