Knight Foundation Makes Grants Of $2.5M To Projects Seeking To Rebuild Trust In Journalism – Forbes

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The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, one of the leading nonprofits in journalism and media, is making a major push to rebuild trust in the media.

The foundation announced this week that it is making grants of more than $2.5 million to projects to improve trust and strengthen confidence in the country’s democratic institutions, especially the press.

“The challenges posed by rising mistrust in media and the rampant spread of misinformation in the digital age raise urgent concerns about the future of journalism,” said Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism, in a Knight release. “These projects aim to bring communities and journalists closer together, and help create long-term solutions to the problem of misinformation.”

The projects include:

Cortico. ($900,000). Cortico will develop a platform to analyze news data (from a variety of news outlets, including social media) to discern what voices are not being heard. Journalists then can seek those stories, in an effort to foster trust.

Duke University Reporters’ Lab. ($800,000). The grant will fund development of new tools to help journalists identify and analyze the accuracy of claims made by public figures. The group also is receiving funding from Facebook.

President and Fellows of Harvard College. ($250,000). The Knight grant will support First Draft, a research lab now a part of the Harvard Kennedy School. The network will help with the real-time verification of news events.

Associated Press. ($245,000). The funding from Knight will double the AP’s resources for fact-checking from two to four full-time staff dedicated to that task.

Reynolds Journalism Institute. ($100,000). The grant will be used for the institute’s Trusting News project, which trains journalists on ways to increase trust with their audiences.

Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. ($100,000). The center’s Trust Project is developing open-source software toolkits to help newsrooms convey their commitment to ethics, independence and inclusive, accurate reporting to the public.

Jefferson Center. ($75,000). Your Voice Ohio, one of the center’s projects, seeks to help strengthen connections between local newsrooms and their communities in Akron, Ohio and other news organizations across Ohio.

In addition to the awards, the foundation has established the Knight Commission on Trust, Media and Democracy, which it describes as “a panel of thinkers and doers from diverse backgrounds committed to creating more informed and engaged communities.”

This commission will explore causes for the erosion of trust in democratic institutions, in particular the press. It will also identify new thinking and solutions around rebuilding trust. It will hold its first meeting in New York on Oct. 12.

The commission will be cochaired by Jamie Woodson, executive chairman and CEO of Tennessee’s State Collaborative on Reforming Education, and Tony Marx, president of The New York Public Library. It will be run by the Aspen Institute, with $2 million in support from Knight.

The “internet is potentially the greatest democratizing tool in history, but it is also democracy’s greatest challenge,” said Alberto Ibargüen, Knight Foundation president. “By offering access to information that can support any position and confirm any bias, [the] internet has eroded trust in the everyday facts we once shared.

“This initiative aims to help society grapple with that challenge. Based on the way humanity has grappled with similar disruptions in the past, I’m optimistic,” Ibargüen said.

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