Large gift hopes to ‘inspire innovation’ in journalism for today’s society

By Jason Archer
November 29, 2018

“Fake news.

These are the words that President Donald Trump has used to describe the media today causing a huge political shift.

Journalism is considered the “voice for the voiceless”  by expressing opinions of all those in society today. This is what Gerry Lenfest hoped to see more of.

Gerry Lenfest, an American lawyer, media executive, Philadelphia philanthropist, who recently died at the age of 88, wanted nothing more than to inspire innovation in the digital age at U.S. media outlets. His foundation helped donate $20 million to local journalism.

JMC_3407 by Library Company of Philadelphia, on Flickr
Gerry Lenfest (middle left) “JMC_3407” (Public Domain) by Library Company of Philadelphia

Kimberly Beck, a Cabrini alumni, Cabrini professor and former editor-in-chief for the Loquitur, said, “The skills you gain are applicable to everyday life managing, leading and writing. Storytelling, coming up with your key point and knowing your audience are key for any workplace.”

About $5 million  will support journalism innovation in as many as 30 metro areas. It will go towards training new leaders looking to be up to date on the new digital age. Lenfest’s foundation has expanded the workforce by adding more than 12 newsrooms over the last three years.

Another $5 million will help fund a technology resource hub that will act as a central repository for the best ideas on issues such as product development, data journalism, and revenue models.

Jim Friedlich, executive director of the Lenfest Institute said, “There is hope to use Philadelphia as a test kitchen, then share both the successes and failures with other cities.”

The remaining $10 million will support journalism at the Philadelphia Media Network and other new organizations within the city. Applications for grants will likely be accepted in the early part of 2019, according to Friedlich.

Lenfest wanted to put newspapers back in local hands rather than seeing journalism slowly wither away. Journalism has now gone digital and has lost it old ways.

Katie Kucia, a junior human resource management major, said, “I do not remember the last time I picked up a physical newspaper. I really only look at my social media for news updates.”

The digital age is growing steadily and journalism as a whole needs to be ready to adapt to the growing change. These donations will help teach the old ways and also show how journalism can adapt to the new age we are living in now.

A poll of over 2,000 people, ages 18 and older, found that only 14 percent of people are interested in learning more about journalism. In today’s society journalism is needed more than ever. Through Lenfest foundation we hope that number will increase.

Timmy Brooks, a senior business administration major, said, “If journalism grows, we as a society can put this ‘fake news’ case to rest.”

“Kids need to realize how important of a topic this is, especially in this day in age,” Jake Klein, a secondary education and history major, said.

Journalism is slowly growing but without it we can not make any progress.

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Jason Archer

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