Donors Forum: Fall 2023

The Philanthropic Case for Local Journalism

THURSDAY, NOV 30 | 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM

LOCATION: Adam W. Herbert University Center at UNF

Local news is facing a crisis. Newspapers are shrinking, and research has shown a lack of quality local news is linked to lower voter turnout, more polarization, and even lower municipal bond ratings—an expense borne by taxpayers.  


Against this backdrop, promising solutions are emerging. Innovative, nonprofit newsrooms have arisen in the last few years to strengthen the local news ecosystem in Northeast Florida. Local and national funders have stepped forward to support these newsrooms. In September, a collaboration of national foundations announced the creation of Press Forward, an effort to bring $500M to address the challenge.


Our November Donors Forum revisits local journalism, a topic that we first discussed in 2020, with an update on progress made through the advent of digital-first, community supported newsrooms in our region.


Our event will feature keynote remarks from Margaret Sullivan, a visiting professor at Duke, former public editor of the New York Times, columnist at The Washington Post, and author of Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American DemocracyJohn Peyton will share his perspective on the importance of local news from his experience as Jacksonville Mayor. 


In addition, we will hear about the promising developments in the field from a panel of local and national experts, including: 


  • Rusty Coats, Executive Director of Journalism Funding Partners, an organization focused on serving as a bridge and leader in the growing realm of philanthropy-supported journalism 
  • Feather Houstoun, Senior Advisor for journalism and public media for the Philadelphia-based Wyncote Foundation, and a longtime journalism grantmaker 
  • David McGowan, President and CEO, WJCT Public Media, which owns and operates Jax Today, nonprofit local journalism service that includes a weekday email newsletter
  • Andrew Pantazi, founder and editor of The Tributary, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom focused on investigative journalism in Northeast Florida and statewide 

We hope you will join us for a rich discussion about the progress our community is making to sustain quality news and information, the foundation of a free society. 


Special thanks to the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations for partnering with us on this event, and for their support of WJCT/Jax Today. We also wish to recognize the Jessie Ball duPont Fund for its support of WJCT/Jax Today and The Tributary.

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