By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Houston becomes the latest city to announce a nonprofit news project

Downtown Houston. Photo (cc) 2018 by David Daniel Turner.

Big news out of Houston, where several major philanthropies have announced they intend to raise $20 million to start a nonprofit news project — just the latest major metropolitan area to embrace nonprofit journalism.

What makes it a bit unusual is that the Houston Chronicle, the legacy daily, is owned by Hearst, generally regarded as one of the better newspapers chains. Of course, all corporate chains are problematic, but Houston is not like Baltimore, where hotel magnate Stewart Bainum is launching the nonprofit The Baltimore Banner after losing out to the hedge fund Alden Global Capital in his bid to buy The Baltimore Sun.

The Houston effort is being led by the American Journalism Project, whose chief executive, Sarabeth Berman, told the Columbia Journalism Review:

Local news is a public service — one that’s been in sharp decline. This project demonstrates that local philanthropies can, and need to, play a transformative role in rebuilding and sustaining independent, original reporting in service of communities.

Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

With an anticipated launch in late 2022 or early 2023 on multiple platforms, the new nonprofit news organization will elevate the voices of Houstonians and address the needs of the community as identified in the American Journalism Project’s extensive research. Its wide-ranging coverage will be available for free to readers as well as other news organizations.

I wish them well, of course. Still, it’s hard not to wonder if the money could go to better use elsewhere. Greater Houston residents already get first-rate coverage of state politics and public policy through The Texas Tribune, which is also a nonprofit, and the Chronicle is presumably doing a better job than your typical Alden or Gannett paper.

Click here to read the full press release.

Discover more from Media Nation

Subscribe to get the latest posts sent to your email.


With Chicago Public Media’s acquisition, the Sun-Times will soon go nonprofit


The New York Times buries a story about antisemitism in Tennessee


  1. Desiree Vignola

    Hi Dan,

    I have a question about this non-profit news being sustained by local philanthropists. And I want to be clear, I don’t really know exactly how a philanthropy works, I just know they put money where it is needed, but don’t they make any kind of profit out of it? Or is it tax exempt? My actual question is, if a certain philanthropy or philanthropies are sustaining local news, do they have a saying on what goes in the news?

    Hope everything is going well, when is your new book coming out?


  2. Dan, isn’t the Texas Tribune a non-profit as well? I seem to remember meeting the editor or publisher 8 or 9 years ago at a conference of the National Conference of Editorial Writers or the Association of Opinion Journalists?

    • Dan Kennedy

      Yes it is. I just added that — good catch, thanks.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén