ANNO letter to Press Forward


February 29, 2024

Dear Knight Foundation President and CEO Maribel Pérez Wadsworth, MacArthur Foundation President John Palfrey, and Press Forward Director Dale R. Anglin,

We write to you today as ANNO, the Alliance of Nonprofit News Outlets, a network of 40 nonprofit news organizations geographically dispersed throughout the United States. Recently featured in a pair of articles by NiemanLab, ANNO is growing rapidly as a democratically operated, energetic collective of local journalism veterans committed to keeping meaningful, independent, local news coming for our communities.

ANNO is made up entirely of working nonprofit journalists and allied media professionals. We are the mission-driven survivors in the trenches; we do the watchdog and investigative work for local populations, and we bring the news. 

As part of our greater commitment to the national project of saving local news, we have been in active dialogue about what we think would best help organizations like ours, of which there are at least 400 in the United States. 

As we expect you are aware, the nonprofit local news industry is fragile. Many outlets do not have more than a few months of operating expenses in the bank and many have serious trouble finding the staff they need at the pay they have available. Yet, we are producing important journalism for our communities – in many cases we are providing the only real journalism in a given area. We are striving for sustainability and we know we could do even better work with additional dollars, offering a true way forward for local news.

That’s where Press Forward comes in. 

We know Press Forward is funding projects that provide support services to organizations like ours. Those might be, for example, AI systems created via Rolli, photojournalistic resources through CatchLight, and similar projects run by or through INN, LION, etc. 

Those may turn out to be very helpful experiments, though some of our member-outlets disagree. 

Before you invest in more of these intermediary projects, however, we ask that you meet with us to hear about what we really need to keep our organizations going. As the people who do the frontline work that all this effort is meant to support, we know what’s needed most right now: operational funding. 

We’ve learned from earlier experiences that we simply lack the staff and bandwidth to understand and implement much of the supportive resources being sent our way. 

That said, shared resources would definitely help us, including back office staff — paid for by a third party — to handle the resource-intensive aspects of running small nonprofits: HR and payroll management; bookkeeping and accounting; managing regulatory requirements; and donor data management. Many of us could also benefit significantly from cost-free, predictable, on-call assistance with websites, server and archive maintenance, graphic design, marketing, and the like.

But most critically, we need funds to pay our reporters and editors well enough to keep them from giving up on journalism. 

As we collectively try to figure out how to keep hard-hitting local news from collapsing further, we ask that Press Forward seriously consider giving direct dollars to hundreds of nonprofit local news operations. 

We need this in part so that we can have the financial wherewithal to stabilize and increase our staff ranks to take advantage of all else that is going to be offered thanks to Press Forward.

We ask that you consider giving $100,000 per actively-producing local nonprofit newsroom every year for the projected five-year lifespan of Press Forward. Excluding public media and operations that have 15 or more regular staff, we believe, again, that there are about 400 such organizations that would fit into this category — you can identify them via INN and ANNO — bringing the total requested to about $40 million per year for at least the next five years.

We ask that these grants be given for general operating expenses and not arrive with training or reporting requirements of the sort that further eat away at our time and energy. We believe this would offer an immediate and needed sense of respite along with an opportunity to assess, strategize, and accept forthcoming offers of assistance.

Additionally, we request that you consider underwriting an in-person meeting of the members of ANNO at a cost of $100,000. This would be a fall 2024 meeting at which we can articulate, as those in the trenches, what we’ve learned from our collective survival against the odds. The funds would be used to pay the travel expenses of up to two individuals per organization, to hire a conference organizer, and to rent facilities for the meeting. The meeting would result in a written report of our findings.

We urge you to meet with us and to consider this request. Thank you for your kind consideration.


The Alliance of Nonprofit News Outlets (ANNO)

Letter drafted by an ANNO editorial working group and passed by a majority of the 40 ANNO member-outlets, as of February 27, 2024, on February 28, 2024:  27 ANNO member-outlets voting yes, 3 member-outlets voting no, 3 member-outlets voting abstain, and 7 member-outlets not voting. 

The ANNO member-outlets voting yes were:

AfroLA (CA)

Alameda Post (CA)

Athens County Independent (OH)

Boston Compass Newspaper (MA)

Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism (MA)

DC Witness/Baltimore Witness

East Greenwich News (RI)

East Lansing Info (MI)

ecoRI News


NancyOnNorwalk (CT)

NH Center for Public Interest Journalism

NowKalamazoo (MI)

Peekskill Herald (NY)

South Dakota News Watch

The Daily Catch (NY)

The JOLT - The Journal of Olympia, Lacey & Tumwater (WA)

The Montague Reporter (MA)

The Providence Eye (RI)

The Rapidian (MI)

The Shoestring (MA)

The Sierra Nevada Ally (NV)

The Xylom (NAT’L)

Vallejo Sun (CA)

VoxPopuli (FL)

Worcester Community Media Foundation (MA)

YourArlington (MA)


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