The Santa Barbara Foundation will receive a $500,000 matching grant, for a total of $1 million, over two years to create a new journalism platform for the South Coast.
Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is providing the funding to launch the Santa Barbara Journalism Initiative, described as a “a nonprofit enterprise journalism project for investigative and explanatory reporting on the South Coast.” Enterprise pieces will be produced annually, with shorter pieces throughout the year.
According to a release from the Santa Barbara Foundation, the goal is to produce “thought-provoking in-depth reporting about Santa Barbara County.” The program says it will collaborate “with local media to strengthen journalism in the public interest and encourage debate for a more informed, engaged, and democratic civic life.”
Santa Barbara’s media landscape has been in a state of upheaval in recent years with the sale of the Santa Barbara News-Press to billionaire Wendy McCaw, who made headlines with a major labor dispute and whose quirky editorials have at times been the talk of the town. In recent months, the Santa Barbara Daily Sound has folded, and, on the television front, KEYT Channel 3 has been sold.
Meanwhile, former News-Press staff writer Melinda Burns, retired UC Santa Barbara Professor Richard Flacks and community advocate Hap Freund have been working to adapt a nonprofit model for adding in-depth news coverage to the South Coast media landscape.
The matching funds for the new enterprise comes from the Santa Barbara Foundation, the James S. Bower and McCune Foundations and the Fund for Santa Barbara. The Knight Foundation is set to grant $500,000 for the initiative, and the other nonprofits will match that amount, for a total of $1 million. The program will be housed at the Miller McCune Center for Research, Media and Public Policy in downtown Santa Barbara. Former News-Press Publisher Steve Ainsley will be the first board chair of the initiative.