GradeTheNews.org will run out of funds at the end of February.
The site will not go dark, however. The two of us, as well as three dedicated interns, will keep it going, in some capacity, on a volunteer basis.
Still to come are two major analyses of Bay Area news media, including our annual report card detailing which of the region's most popular news media best served the public in 2005.
Grade the News began as an effort to counter the increasing commodification of news by helping consumers "vote" with their subscriptions and station choices for the news they need, rather than what media corporations could seduce them to want. Our hope has been to make substance pay as well or better than schlock.
With a minimal budget we've accomplished a great deal in just five years of operation. We're proud that we were able to expose some ethical problems in Bay Area news, and many of them have been favorably resolved. We're delighted that many students and citizens have used our news scorecards and analyses as a tool for thinking critically about the media.
At the same time, however, market pressures for higher profits – particularly from investors – are intensifying. The proposed sale of Knight Ridder is exhibit A. Alas, the need for an advocate for journalism that builds civic capital is growing.
We're deeply grateful for the contributions we've received from the Ford Foundation, our current funder; the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, which gave us our start and sustained us over several bumps; and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. We are in debt to KTEH public television in San Jose for launching us, to Stanford University and its Communication Department for allowing us to expand, and San Jose State University and its School of Journalism and Mass Communications for helping us reach the next level.
And we'd also like to thank Lou Alexander whose blog has kept us up to speed on the potential Knight Ridder sale, those who wrote commentaries, the tipsters in newsrooms who have helped us do our reporting, the dozens of collaborating schools and media-reform organizations, the hundreds of correspondents.
Finally, we'd like to thank you -- the readers who have made Grade the News such a valuable experience.
We're still hoping for an eleventh hour reprieve. If you'd like to help, or know potential funders, we'd like to hear from you.
John McManus, project director (jmcmanus AT gradethenews.org)
Michael Stoll, associate director (mstoll AT gradethenews.org)