Posted in Behind the News

How we work with foundations

, by Lauren Easton

AP works with foundations and nonprofits to augment our journalism and help us tell stories we might otherwise not be able to tell.

Director of News Partnerships Lisa Gibbs explains how this outside support underpins AP’s mission of providing factual, unbiased journalism to the world.

How does AP work with foundations and nonprofits?

AP collaborates with a number of nonprofits both in and outside of the news media industry to expand and deepen our global news report. Increasingly, philanthropic institutions are supporting those collaborations as well as AP’s own ambitious plans to strengthen our great journalism and the entire news industry.

Grants fall basically into three categories. First, there are journalism projects that benefit from extra newsgathering funds, like the ongoing series “Tracked” about the impact of artificial intelligence on the lives of everyday people, that’s funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Then there are significant coverage expansions on topics we care deeply about, such as health and science, religion, and state government. Finally, there are technology innovations, like AP StoryShare, which allows local news organizations to share their stories with one another to supplement their news reports. In all three types, AP has complete editorial control over what we produce.

AP collaborates with nonprofit news outlets such as Chalkbeat and Kaiser Health News, and with customers like Univision to strengthen our journalism, bringing specialized expertise or journalists in locations where AP staff are unavailable. We have worked with several university journalism schools too; one example is our project with the Northwestern University Knight Lab to help local newsrooms learn more about using automation and artificial intelligence.

Why does AP accept funding from foundations for its journalism? How do we decide who to work with?

Our work with foundations starts with AP’s own strategic priorities – what stories could we tell better and more frequently with additional funds? How can we help members and customers cover those stories better for their own communities? How can we experiment with new approaches or improve our technology? We see foundation funding as an important means of fulfilling our mission of providing accurate, unbiased journalism as we produce the world’s most comprehensive news report.

Then we determine which funders grant in those program areas and would meet AP’s standards. Each foundation goes through a thorough standards review to ensure its commitment to editorial independence. AP’s editorial control over our journalism is non-negotiable.

Throughout the news industry, philanthropies are increasingly giving grants to journalism organizations, not just public or nonprofit media but also for-profit news companies. Media casts a bright light on areas in which they are interested and think are valuable, both solutions and problems. AP’s unparalleled distribution network means a much broader understanding of issues like health care, climate change and education.

Who have we accepted funding from lately and for what projects?

Before 2017, AP had only received grants from the Knight Foundation. As of today, we have grants with 16 funders and more to come. Most people know about our relationships with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for health and science coverage, the Lilly Endowment for religion, and Report for America for state government. In 2021, we received a grant from the European Journalism Centre for a year-long series on the impact of the pandemic on African women. We just announced our second grant from the Walton Family Foundation, for investigative reporting about oceans and fisheries.

Learn more about AP’s work with foundations and nonprofits.