Report for America sustainability report offers hope for local news philanthropy as newsrooms raise 61% more per reporter

Report for America today announced that it will release its 2020 Local Newsroom Sustainability Report during the Knight Media Forum, hosted virtually by the Knight Foundation, March 2-4.

The upcoming report includes the striking news that Report for America newsroom partners raised 61% more funding per reporter in 2020 than in 2019, jumping from a $14,593 average to $23,500 per reporter.

Overall, the report will demonstrate the valuable role philanthropy can play in addressing the crisis in local journalism—at a time when shrinking advertising revenue and the COVID-19 pandemic have shuttered many newsrooms.

“Local communities want local news and are willing to work at making it happen,” said Todd Franko, Report for America’s director of local sustainability and development. “That’s what 2020 told us—and that it happened in an unprecedented year in American history needs to be part of the recognition.”

Among the report’s highlights:

  • Report for America helped local newsrooms raise $4.6 million in 2020 (well past its projected $2.5 million goal)—essentially injecting nearly $10 million into journalism with Report for America’s national match.
  • Fundraising by for-profit newsrooms grew from $12,972 per newsroom in 2019 to $26,811 per newsroom in 2020, while fundraising for nonprofits rose from $28,433 per newsroom in 2019 to $41,254 in 2020.
  • The growth is fueled largely by individual giving: donors giving under $5,000 contributed 6,774 gifts, averaging $68, to our partner newsrooms, compared to 984 gifts averaging $54 in 2019

“How this success happened is what ignites our path forward,” Franko said. “In our partner communities, there is a base audience of donors who want local news. They are making local philanthropy a vital third revenue stream to sustain local media.”

Beyond releasing the report during the Knight Media Forum, Report for America will participate in two panel events, both taking place Wednesday, March 3, at 1 p.m. ET:

  • New Solutions to Rebuild Local Journalism: Strategies for communities to support local journalism, featuring Steven Waldman, Report for America’s president and co-founder.
  • Local Funder-Grantee success story: Report for America: A case study on the national service organization placing journalists in local newsrooms across the country, featuring Report for America corps members Zoë Jackson, Minnesota Star Tribune; newsroom partner, Greg Farmer, The Kansas City Star; and funder, Marian Kaanon, Stanislaus Community Foundation.

The Knight Media Forum is the premier gathering of leaders in philanthropy, journalism and technology working to strengthen local news, communities and democracy. The 2021 forum is online and open to all. Register here.

To learn more about Report for America’s efforts to place journalists into local newsrooms across the nation while empowering newsrooms to develop sustainable funding, visit

About Report for America

Report for America is a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities. Launched in 2017 and donor-financed, Report for America is creating a new, sustainable system that provides Americans with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable, and rebuild trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit media organization with an established track record of training and supporting teams of emerging journalists around the world and in the US. Report for America is a MacArthur Foundation 100&Change finalist, a global competition for a single $100 million grant.