H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest donated The Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com to the Institute for Journalism in New Media, a newly created tax-exempt organization controlled by the nonprofit Philadelphia Foundation, in a move designed to ensure the survival of independent journalism at the region’s dominant news organizations.
The new ownership structure allows the newspapers and website to receive philanthropic donations to fund local journalism while also remaining “fiercely independent,” according to publisher Terrance C.Z. Egger.
The nonprofit was founded in 1918, with a mission to improve the quality of life in the greater Philadelphia region. It manages $370 million in assets.
TPF Special Assets Fund
A wholly owned subsidiary of the Philadelphia Foundation. Its tax-exempt status allows for tax-deductible donations.
The Institute for Journalism in New Media
A nonprofit journalism institute created at Lenfest’s request by the Philadelphia Foundation, operating under the TPF Special Assets Fund. Lenfest donated Philadelphia Media Network — the company that publishes The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com — to the institute, as well as $20 million to its endowment.
The institute’s endowment will support specific journalism grants at the two newspapers and website, as well as fund development of new content-delivery models that could potentially assume the role of printed newspapers.
The institute owns Philadelphia Media Network but has no governance power over it. Lenfest’s gift agreement stipulates: “The editorial function and news coverage of PMN shall at all times remain independent of the institute, and the institute shall not attempt to influence or interfere with the editorial policies or decisions of PMN.”
Philadelphia Media Network
The company was converted from a limited liability company to a public benefit corporation. As such, it will still operate as a for-profit business but can also engage in activities that further a public benefit, including the value to society of an active news organization in the Philadelphia region.
The Institute’s Board of Managers
The members of the initial board of managers of the Institute for Journalism in New Media:
Dean of the graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.
Dean of the School of Media and Communication at Temple University.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Michael X. Delli Carpini
Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.
David W. Haas
Vice chairman of the Wyncote Foundation, which has supported media and journalism undertakings.
H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest
Philanthropist and former cable television entrepreneur who had been sole owner of Philadelphia Media Network.
President and CEO of the Philadelphia Foundation.
Vice provost and founding Lenfest executive director of the Center for Cultural Partnerships at Drexel University.
Dean emeritus and professor of law and economics at the Columbia University Law School
Founder and chairman of the Tow Foundation, which has funded projects including the Tow Center for Digital Journalism.
SOURCES: Philadelphia Media Network; the Philadelphia Foundation