published : 2023-10-15

Liberal Groups Launch Half-Billion Dollar Effort to Boost Local News Before 2024 Election

Coalition led by MacArthur Foundation with ties to the Biden administration aims to strengthen local media infrastructure

Portrait of John Palfrey, President of the MacArthur Foundation, taken with a Nikon D850

Nearly two dozen liberal foundations have joined forces to invest $500 million in bolstering local media infrastructures, with a focus on coverage of critical issues like criminal justice reform and climate change leading up to the 2024 elections.

The initiative, named Press Forward, comprises 22 left-wing foundations and is spearheaded by the MacArthur Foundation. With a mission to create an 'equitable future by informing, engaging, and activating Americans through deep investments in just and inclusive news and narratives,' the MacArthur Foundation has already contributed significantly to progressive journalistic endeavors.

By strengthening local news, the effort is expected to benefit Democratic candidates who support these causes. The MacArthur Foundation has ties to the Biden administration, particularly through the president's Community Violence Intervention Collaborative, which aims to combat gun violence.

John Palfrey, president of the MacArthur Foundation, emphasized the gravity of losing credible news sources, stating, 'My sense is that we are losing a newspaper in America every week, and that's a dangerous thing for American democracy. When you lose credible news sources, misinformation and disinformation swoop in.'

A diverse group of people participating in a criminal justice reform rally, taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

According to the coalition's plans, $100 million will be allocated annually over the next five years to provide a vital lifeline for local news. The specific type of journalism to be supported has not been mentioned in the report by The Washington Post, but the MacArthur Foundation's press release suggests a focus on pushing left-wing causes and issues.

Palfrey further added, 'We have a moment to support the reimagination, revitalization, and rapid development of local news. We are prepared to support the strongest ideas and seed new ones; build powerful networks; and invest in people, organizations, and networks with substantial resources.'

The $500 million effort by the MacArthur Foundation aligns with its broader mission to address criminal justice reform by supporting initiatives such as the 'Safety and Justice Challenge.' This challenge works toward reducing the jail population by 50 percent through equity-based solutions such as diversion and bail reform.

The MacArthur Foundation, with an endowment exceeding $7 billion, has already funded numerous grants as part of its journalism program. Several of its grantees focus on issues like reparations, Juneteenth, and the dispute of 'disinformation,' often by avoiding voices that advocate for oil and natural gas.

Protesters holding signs advocating for climate change action, taken with a Sony Alpha a7 III

Critics argue that billionaire foundations like MacArthur aim to create numerous clones of outlets that mirror left-wing narratives instead of supporting genuine local news. Capital Research Center president Scott Walter said, 'Calling that 'democracy' is a bad joke.'

While the MacArthur Foundation did not respond to inquiries about the journalism campaign, this bold investment in local news has the potential to reshape the media landscape in preparation for the 2024 election.