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Dale Anglin

620. Philanthropists fund the arts and museums, why not local news?

Dale Anglin, the director of Press Forward, came to journalism through a robust history of working in issues-focused philanthropy. She realized local journalism makes the biggest difference when it comes to helping people understand the issues in their community and the need to support things like education. 

“There were not enough journalists covering the issues we were trying to eradicate and solve,” she says, something that Press Forward, a national coalition that will spend $500 million over the next five years to strengthen local newsrooms, is dedicated to addressing. 

“Press Forward was started to think about how do you galvanize funders and donors to think more broadly about the importance of local news,” Anglin says. “The same way we all fund arts and we fund museums and we fund hospitals, we want local news to be in that mix.” 

Press Forward has a group of 57 funders and donors, including many big-name organizations like the Knight Foundation, Democracy Fund and the Joyce Foundation, that want to support local news as a keystone toward reducing polarization and improving the quality of life in communities across the country. 

The organization has four pillars, Anglin says: Infrastructure, policy, locals and equity. 

“We need infrastructure to make sure the entities that do exist know how to raise revenue and know their audience, know how to be on the latest websites. Policy; we need other forms of revenue and we think policy is the way to get it. Locals, that’s the local chapters. And then equity; we know that when we had a robust media system, it never represented all of the people it should’ve represented. Those people were not even the authors of their own stories. We want to build (equity) back, but we want to build it back better.” 

Press Forward is ecumenical in the outlets it wants to work with: small, independent newsrooms, startups, larger outlets, public media, public radio, they all have a role to play,

“If we want our small-d democracy to thrive, we need local news. It’s incredibly important for knowing your neighbor, knowing their triumphs, knowing their struggles, and it turns out, that helps lead to less polarization,” Anglin says. “We know local news helps with quality of life decisions and holding our government accountable.” 

Right now there are 22 chapters of Press Forward in 22 states, something Anglin is eager to see expand.

“We want a chapter in every stay,” she says. “It really is a way to start a movement. They’re already clamoring to talk to each other. To me, that’s the start of a movement. It’s a mixture of funders and outlets thinking through how can we support this.”

To be a chapter, Anglin suggests any interested parties start doing their research first before approaching the organization.

“Come to us when you’ve had some of that initial conversation,” she says. “If you’re a funder that’s usually gone it alone, you’re not used to collaboration, this might not be the place to start because this is true collaboration. Come in with a couple of other people. … We want you to think about your whole ecosystem. Who is represented, who is not. That’s why we need more than one person at the table. This really is about the full (news) ecosystem in your region, however you define your region.” 

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