A coalition of 22 donors last week announced Press Forward, a national initiative that will award $500 million to revitalize local news. According to a press release, Press Forward will “strengthen communities and democracy by supporting local news and information with an infusion of more than a half-billion dollars over the next five years. Press Forward will enhance local journalism at an unprecedented level to re-center local news as a force for community cohesion; support new models and solutions that are ready to scale; and close longstanding inequities in journalism coverage and practice.”
Among the initial partners for Press Forward are Knight Foundation, which supports News Is Out — a collaborative that includes PGN and five other LGBTQ+ publications across the country. The Knight Foundation previously provided News Is Out with a technology grant to help the Local Media Foundation manage the Queer Media Sustainability Lab, a one-year program to improve long-term sustainability.
Members of News Is Out expressed support for the Press Forward initiative, including PGN publisher Mark Segal. Segal noted the importance of LGBTQ+ media.
“We in the LGBTQ community are on the front lines of the attack on democracy,” Segal said. “Hundreds of laws against our community have been proposed thus far. Those proposed laws attack our first amendment rights, our right to marry and our right to health care. They destroy our chance of America being a place where we can live peacefully and pursue the right of happiness.”
In a statement, other members of News Is Out also expressed enthusiasm for the effort. Along with PGN, the members of the collaborative are Bay Area Reporter, Dallas Voice, Washington Blade, Windy City Times, and TAGG, a national queer women’s magazine. The members have teamed up on editorial, business and fundraising opportunities.
Leo Cusimano, publisher of the Dallas Voice, also noted the backlash against the LGBTQ+ community, adding that “LGBTQ+ media is needed now more than ever.”
“By working together in News Is Out, we have formed a strong alliance to help our members in technology training, editorial collaborations and much more,” Cusimano said. “New funds into this ecosystem will be vital to strengthening the network of local LGBTQ+ media in this country.”
Tracy Baim, co-founder of Windy City Times — which is part of a Chicago collaborative advocating for local funding in their respective city as well — called the Press Forward initiative “a game-changer in the local media space.”
“Local media are critical to covering issues across the country, from LGBTQ+ and environmental issues to education and criminal justice reform,” Baim said. “Philanthropy can provide an important complement to other needed revenues to help local media survive and thrive.”
Lynne Brown, publisher of the Washington Blade, echoed similar statements.
“While we have lost dozens of LGBTQ+ news media outlets in recent years, those of us who have survived are thriving in 2023,” Brown said. “We have done so because we have innovated and sought new forms of revenue. The News Is Out Collaborative has assisted with support that propels us forward.”
In addition to the Knight Foundation, other initial Press Forward partners include The Archewell Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln, Democracy Fund, Ford Foundation, Mary W. Graham, Glen Nelson Center at American Public Media Group, Heising-Simons Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Joyce Foundation, KFF, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, Lumina Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Outrider Foundation, Rita Allen Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Skyline Foundation and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.