The model for commercial journalism and reporting is clearly not a sustainable one — especially in a world where corporate and individual interests increasingly hold sway and opinion and entertainment-driven news is becoming the norm. There is hope to be found in the form of nonprofit journalism and reporting in the public interest, concepts that have been around for a while but are gaining even more traction in the current age of shrinking for-profit newsrooms. With over $300 million in assets, the Park Foundation (See Park Foundation: Grants for Journalism) has been a huge supporter of public interest media for decades and its role is as important now as it ever was.
The Park Foundation has many different areas of interest in its grant making, including higher education, media, the environment, animal welfare, and "community needs." Sometimes these priorities overlap, but within its media grants it is specifically focused on funding that promotes the public interest and raises awareness of critical environmental, political, and social issues. The Park Foundation knows that an informed citizenry is integral to democracy and that's exactly what it seeks to support.
The four program priorities in media for the Park Foundation include investigative journalism, media policy, public broadcasting, and documentary films. (It also funds certain media projects under its Environment Program.) It is a famous supporter of programs like Frontline, but also has an interest in smaller and more individualized reporting and news gathering. It gives between $3 million and $4 million in media grants a year, in amounts ranging anywhere from $10,000 to upwards of $350,000. You can peruse grants made by year here and even see specific projects and organizations and the amounts each was given to get a good idea of what the Park Foundation looks to fund.
Proposal submissions are accepted quarterly, with four deadlines given each year. Information about deadlines, proposals, letters of inquiry, and general inquiries can be found here. All proposals must be directly related to the Park Foundation's Program Interests, so be sure to consult that before delving any deeper.
In an economic climate that can be ruthlessly market driven, quality reporting can sometimes fall by the wayside. Journalists doing the hard reporting and non-profit news organizations that are trying to uphold the public interest need the support of organizations like the Park Foundation now more than ever before.