Can foundations solve the journalism crisis?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the context of the ongoing financial crisis in U.S. professional journalism, philanthropic foundation-supported nonprofits are increasingly proposed as a solution to the under-provision of civic-oriented news production. Drawing on an analysis of the social composition of boards of directors and interviews with foundation officials and nonprofit journalists, this article examines both the civic contributions and limitations of foundation-supported nonprofit news organizations. Foundations are shown to place many nonprofits in a Catch-22 because of competing demands to achieve both economic “sustainability” and civic “impact,” ultimately creating pressures to reproduce dominant commercial media news practices or orient news primarily for small, elite audiences. Further, media organizations dependent on foundation project-based funding risk being captured by foundation agendas and thus less able to investigate the issues they deem most important. Reforms encouraging more long-term, no-strings-attached funding by foundations, along with development of small donor and public funding, could help nonprofits overcome their current limitations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1059-1077
Number of pages19
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Boards of directors
  • U.S. journalism
  • foundations
  • media impact
  • media ownership
  • nonprofit journalism
  • sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Can foundations solve the journalism crisis?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this