Barry Friedman with Dave Sparling and FSC student
LkldNow founder Barry Friedman, center, works with Florida Southern College broadcast professor David Sparling and a student to live stream a September 2023 candidate forum hosted by LkldNow and the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce. | Trinity Laurino, LkldNow

This week, LkldNow was among 353 nonprofit news organizations across 46 states that kicked off their annual NewsMatch campaigns.

NewsMatch is a national program that supports vital independent community journalism by matching local readers’ donations with a $6.3 million investment pool from national and regional funders.

During November and December, any reader donations to LkldNow will have triple impact: They will be matched first by NewsMatch and then again by several generous local philanthropists, including the Bell-Barnett Family Fund within the GiveWell Community Foundation and the Maguires of Lakeland.

Over the past several years, NewsMatch has helped power the growth of the INN Network, an alliance of nonprofit newsrooms that includes more than 4,000  journalists — more than any commercial newspaper group. These mission-driven nonprofit news organizations often take the lead in holding government officials accountable, a vital role as the traditional newspaper industry continues to shrink. 

“What’s at stake is American democracy,” said Sue Cross, executive director & CEO of the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), which manages NewsMatch.

“More than 2,500 newspapers have closed in the past two decades, and mis- and disinformation has flooded many communities,” Cross said. “Nonprofit news outlets are providing trusted information to help people build their communities and connect with each other, and hold the powerful to account.”

A new model of public-service journalism

NewsMatch began in 2016 as a project solely supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, but it quickly expanded the following year with the support of Democracy Fund and the Inasmuch Foundation. It has since grown to engage a core group of more than 16 funders dedicated to building a new model of public service journalism across the country.

Last year, news organizations participating in NewsMatch brought in $43 million in local support from area businesses, civic-minded philanthropists, and individual donors — about 10 times the amount of matching funds provided by NewsMatch.

The program continues to grow, with 16% more outlets participating this year than last year. 

This year’s program funders include Heising-Simons Foundation, Jonathan Logan Family Foundation and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, along with hundreds of local and issue-oriented funders that have stepped up to directly support news organizations during the year-end NewsMatch campaign.

Many of the institutional funders supporting NewsMatch in 2023 also support Press Forward, a $500 million fund announced this year to support local news that is expected to start making investments in early 2024.

Local news helps to bind communities together

Taken together, these initiatives illustrate how the philanthropic sector is recognizing the vital role of news in supporting civic engagement, reducing polarization and increasing community cohesion. 

By matching local contributions, instead of just making grants, NewsMatch ensures that nonprofit media outlets are truly connected to and supported by the communities they serve.

A study of INN-member news organizations released last week found that the racial and ethnic makeup of nonprofit news staff largely reflects the U.S. population and is more diverse than the news industry overall.  A subset of the INN Network focuses on issues affecting rural America.

For national and regional funders, NewsMatch provides a simple, customizable way to support news organizations covering the communities and issues that matter most to them.

Through The Miami Foundation, funders can choose to give to the matching-gift pool or set up dedicated funds for particular regions and topics. At the same time, with fundraising training and materials provided by News Revenue Hub and INN, the program helps newsrooms build the fundraising muscle that will ensure their sustainability.

For more background on NewsMatch, including a recent briefing on how the program works, visit the Press Room

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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