Craigslist Founder Makes $1M Grant to ProPublica News
2 March 2017 at 11:38 am
The Craig Newmark Foundation, set up by the founder of the online community networking site craigslist, has made a US$1 million (A$1.3 million) grant to ProPublica, an independent, not-for-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.
“A trustworthy press is the immune system of democracy,” Newmark said in a statement.
“As citizens we can only make informed decisions when we have news we can trust. Independent investigative reporting is essential to shoot down false claims and expose bad actors. ProPublica is a leader in that kind of journalism, and we need more of it.”
He said the unrestricted grant would allow ProPublica to deploy resources and address opportunities, including adding staff where they were most needed over a wide range of issues in the public interest.
“At this critical moment for America, probing and fearless accountability journalism is more important than ever,” ProPublica president Richard Tofel said.
“We are deeply grateful to Craig Newmark, a longtime friend. This grant will allow ProPublica to extend our ability to dig into the actions of government, business and other institutions – and hold those in power to account.”
The grant to ProPublica represents the latest step in Newmark’s ongoing effort to support not-for-profit journalism organisations that can provide “a trustworthy sounding board in the context of rancorous debate”.
“I’ve been supporting and talking about the need for trustworthy journalism for years,” Newmark said.
“But now there’s a new normal in journalism. It’s a media environment where really nasty gossip, lies and deception have the business advantage, and where a lot of traditional news organisations are on the ropes. So we need to redouble our efforts to support the good guys.”
In 2016 Newmark, both personally and through his foundation, made multi-million donations to various not-for-profit media and media-related organisations, including to the Poynter Institute, which will conduct a major, multi-year initiative under the Craig Newmark Chair in Journalism Ethics.
Another grant went to Wikipedia to support their endowment and editorial expansion and fact-checking on the global online reference tool. Newmark is also a founder and funder of The Trust Project, a program developed by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.
“As a news consumer, I won’t pay for news I can’t trust,” Newmark said. “But when it comes to news I can trust, I’m putting my money where my mouth is.”
Back in 2014 Newark wrote a blog titled A Trustworthy Press is the Immune System of Democracy.
In it he said “I just want news I can trust. I also want to help reward good, honest journalism”.
“Since I’m not an expert, I have to defer to those who are. I’ve spent about 10 years talking to a lot of these folks, and have recently joined the boards of Poynter Institute and Columbia Journalism Review, in addition to the Center for Public Integrity and Sunlight Foundation,” he said.
“I do feel that most journalists perform admirably, but it takes very little to compromise trust in a news publication.”
In 2011 Newmark launched craigconnects, a web-based initiative to help people work together for the common good using the Internet.
Newmark said at the time that craigconnects hoped to identify, connect and protect organisations engaged in work that was truly sustainable – socially responsible, self-perpetuating and replicable.
“The site is a voice for the grassroots, the rank-and-file, for people who never had a voice until now,” he said.
The initial list of organisations included dozens working in the areas of community building, social media for social progress, journalism integrity, open and accountable government, service and volunteering, veterans’ issues, and peace in the Middle East.
He said craigconnects was not a fundraising or grant-giving organisation and would operate as an entirely separate entity from craigslist, the popular web platform Newmark founded in the 1990s.