The National Trust for Local News is trying to build a $300 million fund to help save local news
In the crowded field of nonprofits supporting local news ventures, Elizabeth Hansen Shapiro’s National Trust for Local News stands out as something distinct.
Rather than grants, the trust makes investments. Advice and some control come with the help. But the point is for recipients to gather other investors and develop models for serving small-town news deserts that are losing all local coverage.
I refer to the project as Hansen Shapiro’s because she developed the idea, first as a Ph.D. thesis, then as a research fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, and now as a research fellow at Columbia’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism.
All of which suggests an academic pedigree, but the mission is not ivory tower but practical, Hansen Shaprio told me — “to create a nonprofit working with communities to save local news.”
In May, the Trust announced its first project — a partnership with The Colorado Sun to buy and run an imperiled group of 24 small-town weeklies and websites near Denver, owned by Colorado Community Media. More ventures will follow through 2022, Hansen Shapiro said, in an extended beta test of what works and what doesn’t before the Trust starts to scale.