Giving Compass' Take:

• In this story from SSIR, authors Bruce Sievers and Patrice Schneider argue that philanthropy must become involved in the civic media crisis to preserve democracy.

• The author mentions that philanthropy must commit to not influencing content production. How can we ensure this happens?

• To learn about how local journalism can disrupt the fake news narrative, click here.

The media, civil society, and democracy are under unprecedented duress around the world. It is important to see these phenomena as interconnected—to understand that the decline of the civic media poses a threat to civil society and, ultimately, to the democratic process itself. And it’s vital that philanthropy responds to this threat. In the face of these disturbing contemporary trends, philanthropy offers one of the few social resources with the potential to protect the civic role of the media and sustain civil society’s vital function in democratic life.

Here’s what would need to happen to make any philanthropic efforts to preserve and sustain the civic media—and by extension, the democratic way of life—effective.

First, charitable donors would have to increase significantly their investment in the news media. Journalist Rodney Benson estimates that the current level of philanthropic support in the United States for this purpose is $150 million. Simply increasing the amount contributed to the support of news media to 1 percent of total US giving would generate more than $3.7 billion.

Generating philanthropic support to respond to this crisis in civic communication would entail two fundamental commitments by funders: 1) a commitment to direct support toward strengthening the media per se rather than to use the media for advancing another philanthropic cause (for example, environmental protection or improving public health), and 2) a commitment to maintaining a separation of control between the sources of financial support and the content produced by the supported organizations. Anya Schiffrin, director of technology, media, and advocacy specialization at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, explores the importance of both of these commitments extensively in a recent report issued by the Center for International Media Assistance and the National Endowment for Democracy.

Read the full article about the civic media crisis by Bruce Sievers and Patrice Schneider at Stanford Social Innovation Review.