No Surprises: A Major Journalism Funder Stays the Course

The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation is the Barbra Streisand of journalism philanthropy. Let us explain. 

As you probably know, Babs (as we call her here at IP) recently earned her 11th number one Billboard album with Encore. In fact, she's had a number one album in each of the last six decades. Now that's consistency.

Meanwhile, in an ever-changing philanthropic landscape where major funders suddenly shift their strategic focus or dilute their giving towards a specific vector, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation has proved to be equally—and refreshingly—predictable, handing out grants that invest in the future of journalism by building the ethics, skills and opportunities needed to advance principled, probing news, and information.

The foundation just announced the distribution of $1.255 million in grants to 18 journalism organizations nationwide and we can happily say there are no unhappy surprises or strange detours in the mix. Grants were awarded to organizations for projects addressing four core areas of focus: Investigative Reporting, Professional Development, Oklahoma Journalism, and Special Opportunities.

A lion's share of the grants—10 to be exact—fell within the Investigative Reporting category. The two largest grants in this category, both at $100,000, went to the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting to expand original and collaborative reporting and to create earned revenue opportunities and the Center for Investigative Reporting to support Reveal, a public radio show and podcast dedicated to investigative storytelling.

The Institute for Nonprofit News netted $125,000 for training in long-term planning and development, and to develop nonprofit news leaders. It was one of the two organizations receiving Professional Development grants. Five organizations received Special Opportunities grants, the most lucrative of which, at $85,000, went to Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press for a legal fellowship focused on assisting journalists with issues involving libel, privacy and confidential sources.

Back in February of 2015 we engaged in a similar exercise, analyzing the foundation's round of grants. Has anything substantially changed since then? Not really.

While both cycles awarded 18 grants, this most recent round had a nearly identical total payout—$1.255 million versus last year's $1.24 million. A total of 10 organizations received Investigtative Reporting grants in both years. The only noticable difference is that last year's round had three total categories—Investigative Reporting, Professional Development, and Youth Education—to this year's four.

Now we're just nitpicking.

And so our analysis regarding last year's winners holds true now: "A closer look at the winners within the investigative reporting sector only solidifies the foundation's seemingly boring—and of course, incredibly important—priorities."

What a relief.