FRONTLINE, PBS’s Acclaimed Investigative Documentary Series, Launches New Local Journalism Project


June 13, 2019

(Wed., June 12, 2019) FRONTLINE, PBS’s flagship investigative documentary series, is launching a new initiative to bolster local journalism in cities and towns across America with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Through the Local Journalism Project, FRONTLINE will partner with reporters affiliated with local print, television, radio, or digital news organizations to carry out in-depth investigative projects on subjects of local relevance. The initiative will support four to five such projects annually over the next four years. Applications are now being accepted.

“As communities across the country grapple with shrinking newsrooms in local media, our democracy suffers. It becomes harder for vital information to reach the public, and for reporters to uncover stories that hold the powerful accountable,” says FRONTLINE Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath, who served as the sole public media representative on the Knight Commission on Trust, Media, and Democracy.

“Through FRONTLINE’s Local Journalism Project, we will collaborate with local news organizations to support reporters in producing trustworthy investigative journalism — especially in communities where the health of independent reporting is endangered by the changing economics of the media,” Aronson-Rath adds. “We are grateful to the Knight Foundation and CPB for their generous support.”

The Local Journalism Project, which will be housed in FRONTLINE’s newsroom at WGBH in Boston, is being funded by $3 million from the Knight Foundation and $1 million from CPB. Knight’s funding is part of a $300 million commitment to build the future of local news and information that was announced earlier this year.

“The health of our communities is intrinsically tied to the quality and strength of local news,” says Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism. “The Local Journalism Project is about telling in-depth, powerful stories that engage people in shaping and learning about the places where they live. It will help create a strong future for local news in the 21st Century.”

For FRONTLINE, the Local Journalism Project has two goals. The first is to help strengthen local reporting by supporting the kind of deep investigations that have positive impacts on communities. The second is to find new, under-covered stories that FRONTLINE can bring to a national audience on its PBS broadcast and digital platforms.

As part of the project, FRONTLINE will provide local partner organizations with up to $75,000 for an annual reporting salary — designed to free reporters from deadline journalism to pursue an in-depth project lasting months. Partners will also receive editorial guidance from FRONTLINE journalists, including a new, full-time editor whose job will be to manage collaborations with local partners and take a hands-on role in shaping individual investigations.

The Local Journalism Project builds on FRONTLINE’s lengthy track record of collaborating with local and national news organizations. It also builds on the series’ long history of reporting on issues inside towns, cities and states to tell larger stories about the economy, the environment, race, poverty, care for the elderly and abuse of power.

The deadline for reporters affiliated with local media organizations to submit proposals is July 15. Applications and more information are available here.

FRONTLINE, U.S. television’s longest running investigative documentary series, explores the issues of our times through powerful storytelling. FRONTLINE has won every major journalism and broadcasting award, including 91 Emmy Awards and 22 Peabody Awards. Visit and follow us on TwitterFacebookInstagramYouTubeTumblr and Google+ to learn more. FRONTLINE is produced by WGBH Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Abrams Foundation, the Park Foundation, the John and Helen Glessner Family Trust, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation.

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