Kentucky Public Radio member station WFPL made the following announcement today:
Louisville Public Media, which operates the city’s three public radio stations (89.3 WFPL, 91.9 WFPK, 90.5 WUOL), has received a $250,000 challenge grant from Ed Hart and Gaylee Gillim to set up an investigative reporting center, it was announced Monday. The mission of the new unit will be to pursue non-partisan, high-quality investigative journalism whose sole mission is to serve the public interest.
The project, which will be known as the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, has a projected three-year budget of $1.5 million dollars. The challenge grant will cover fifty percent of the first year’s budget. Louisville Public Media must raise another $250,000 to launch the project.
The Center will be staffed by a managing editor and four reporters, all chosen for their knowledge of issues of central importance to the state and region. The reporting will be widely distributed through multiple platforms and will be amplified through partnerships with other news organizations.
Mr. Hart, one of the city’s most visible entrepreneurs, said he was motivated to offer the challenge grant to address the serious decline in the quality and quantity of local and regional journalism. Mr. Hart offered the following statement:
“A free and inquisitive press is essential for our democracy to work. Sadly, this bulwark of our democratic system is crumbling. In a world where the vast majority of American media is consolidated among a handful of corporations that are focused far more on the bottom line than on informing the American public, budget cuts reign. Reporters are laid off, news bureaus closed around the world, and stories that require little time or effort (“infotainment”) crowd out the news of real importance to our lives. With their budgets shrinking, our local print and electronic media lack the resources and time to delve into important news stories. Adding to the problem is the increased influence of the blogosphere, where much of the information disseminated is never subjected to any standard of journalistic integrity or ethics.
“In the face of this crisis of journalism, our public media should be supported now more than ever. In that spirit, I am pleased to offer a matching grant of $250,000 to help fund a new Center for Investigative Reporting at Louisville Public Media. It is my great hope that others will join with me in providing financial support to the new center so it will have the resources and staff it needs long term to bolster the fourth estate in our community and ‘speak truth to power.’”
Donovan Reynolds, LPM’s President and General Manager, said the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting would advance the organization’s goal of becoming an essential community resource for local journalism and developing new technologies for keeping the public informed:
“In today’s inflammatory media climate, the need for incisive, thought-provoking accountability journalism has never been greater,” said Reynolds. “Unfortunately, many news organizations have come to see investigative journalism as non-essential to their mission.”
Reynolds said LPM will seek matching funds for the project from foundations and individual and corporate donors.