Image - text of the word news

Past Event

Nonprofit Local News: Civic Journalism and America's Future

The pandemic has hurt many industries throughout the United States. For local news media, the COVID-19 public health emergency was nearly catastrophic. Already threatened with economic demise because of the rise of digital advertising and how consumers use free social media tools to consume news, the pandemic put further financial stresses on local news outlets by impacting advertising from shuttered restaurants, bars and small businesses. All of this came at a time, of course, when local news—with information on the immediate impact of the public health emergency, among other topics—was more important than ever. 

However, despite the strong challenges for local news outlets, the future may not be so bleak for the industry. Why? A growing number of nonprofit news media ventures are seeking to fill the void for quality local news efforts. Across the country, citizens are increasingly getting local news from new digital ventures focused on a specific region or city. Perhaps most important, philanthropists and major foundations are investing in these new efforts, increasing the chance for sustainability and impact and creating a new future for local news, even at this challenging time.

This program will introduce viewers to two nonprofit efforts—MLK50 (covering the intersection of poverty, power and policy in Memphis), and Cityside (with the Bay Area outlets Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside)—as well as to the co-founder of a new venture philanthropy nonprofit, the American Journalism Project, created to make local sites more financially sustainable. 

Please join us for an important conversation on the future of local news and why the future may be in a new generation of nonprofit news outlets. Wendi C. Thomas and John Thornton will participate virtually; Lance Knobel and David Cohn will be on-stage.


Attendees: Please bring proof of vaccination.

This program has 2 types of tickets available: In-person and online-only. 

Safety Protocols:
• In-person capacity is limited.
• We follow best practices laid out by the CDC and state and local guidelines.
• All guests, staff and volunteers must be vaccinated and show proof of vaccination.
• Masks and social distancing are required indoors.
• Elevators are limited to a maximum of four (4) people at a time.

Our LEED Gold-certified building is designed to cool with outside air, using digitally controlled moveable windows and large ceiling fans. We are deploying additional HEPA filters inside to scrub the air. This is all in addition to increased cleaning of surfaces throughout the building.

July 15, 2021

The Commonwealth Club of California
110 The Embarcadero
Taube Family Auditorium
San Francisco, CA 94105
United States

Image - Lance Knobel

Lance Knobel

CEO, CItyside

Image - Wendi C. Thomas

Wendi C. Thomas

Editor and Publisher, MLK50: Justice Through Journalism (Participating Virtually)

Image - John Thornton

John Thornton

Founder Texas Tribune; Co-Founder American Journalism Project (Participating Virtually)

Image - David Cohn

David Cohn

Senior Director, Advance Local; Cofounder of Subtext—Moderator


3–4 p.m. (Pacific Time) program