Universities do it. Not-for-Profits do it. And now, a major-market daily newspaper has accepted a grant to fund staff at the paper.
The Los Angeles Times has been awarded a $1.04-million, two-year Ford Foundation grant to support five additional reporters in the newsroom. According to reports, the new staff members will focus on specific beats: immigration and ethnic communities in Southern California, the California prison system, the Southwest border region and one of the most important international stories in our region, Brazil.
“These are vital coverage areas that have been affected by our need to make tough choices in the past decade,” says editor Davan Maharaj in an email to staff, “Although the grant is for two years, we intend to continue with these beats beyond that period. We will immediately start our search for reporters.”
The grant comes as many newspapers are struggling to cope with years of declining print ad revenues. The Los Angeles Times in particular, has been under great strain, cutting its newsroom by nearly a third, and dealing with its parent company, Tribune, operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since December 2008.
The grant is said to come with no strings attached, and the paper will have complete control over editorial content. The grant is part of a new initiative by the Ford Foundation to increase coverage of issues involving inequality, injustice and disparity.
"Our grant funds will only be used to support principled, non-partisan news coverage that subscribes to well-established journalistic principles and significantly advances public knowledge of a specific set of important social issues as selected by the Los Angeles Times," said Joseph Voeller, a spokesman for the Ford Foundation. "No funds will support the work of the paper's editorial board."