Press Release from INN: News philanthropy leader Karen Rundlet to helm INN as CEO

As a longstanding member of the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), Access Press is delighted to hear about the recent […]

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As a longstanding member of the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), Access Press is delighted to hear about the recent developments within the network.

Philanthropy leader and multimedia journalist Karen Rundlet will become chief executive officer of the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), the network driving the movement to reinvent journalism as a nonprofit, nonpartisan public service.

Rundlet will join INN on Jan. 8, the INN Board of Directors announced today, after eight years at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, where she was instrumental in executing Knight’s journalism investment strategy developing sustainable local news ecosystems.

At INN, she will lead growth and support of more than 425 news organizations that make up the INN Network, setting standards and best practices for philanthropy in news and advancing the innovation, business reinvention and equitable approaches reshaping the news field.

The INN team supports more than 5,000 people working in nonprofit news across North America. The INN Network’s expanding membership is advancing the vision for news as an equitable and shared public resource. Rundlet succeeds CEO Sue Cross, who announced she would step down by the end of the year.

“Karen is uniquely positioned as a visionary, passionate and experienced journalist and philanthropist to propel the nonprofit news movement,” said Marcia Parker, the chair of INN’s Board of Directors. “As a leader of our field, she already is driving the national advances to redesign news media that is inclusive for communities of color and can bring trusted information to everyone.”

As senior director for Knight’s journalism program, Rundlet managed a more than $50 million portfolio of grants in newsrooms and field-building organizations, including INN. She helped lead the growth of NewsMatch, the end-of-year campaign launched by Knight and supported by a coalition of dozens of funders that has leveraged a $25 million investment to help newsrooms raise $246 million in support from their communities since 2017.

Rundlet is also one of the funding leaders helping organize Press Forward, a new collaborative effort spearheaded by the MacArthur Foundation that aims to enhance the expansion and sustainability of local news organizations across the country.

”Across the country, we are experiencing a renaissance in newsmaking, with INN members driving that shift,” said Rundlet. “Ours is a powerful community of practice, focused on excellence in journalism, equity and inclusion, and the financial health of news. We are world-building and innovating with the ultimate goal of keeping communities informed to serve our collective future.”

Rundlet moved to Knight and journalism philanthropy in 2015 with deep experience in digital, radio and television news. As a journalist and manager at the Miami Herald Media Company she reported, led digital initiatives and built the newsroom’s first video studio. Rundlet also produced business reports for public radio newsrooms and American Public Media’s “Marketplace.” Early in her career, she worked as a television news producer in Atlanta and New York.

Rundlet, her husband, Alex, and daughter live in Miami, where she grew up after her family emigrated from Jamaica. She is currently an Ambassador for Black Art at the Perez Art Museum Miami and a board member of Artists in Residence in Everglades (AIRIE).

At INN, she joins a fully remote staff of 22 who support a fast-growing membership as nonprofit news becomes a mainstay of journalism across the United States and Canada. The number of independent newsrooms in the INN Network has quadrupled since Cross joined the organization in 2015, and INN helps dozens of communities each year determine how to launch and support newsrooms, often filling in “news deserts” where newspapers and broadcast newsrooms have closed or cut coverage. The network also includes dozens of expert national and statewide newsrooms that provide deep investigative and explanatory coverage to other news media as well as directly to the public.

As commercial news media has managed through a global market failure due to changing consumer patterns and shifts in digital advertising, nonprofit news models have emerged as a stable, successful option for sustaining many types of news reporting. Nonprofits differ not just by model or tax status, but by their commitment to public service, community-building and other civic benefits. This has been essential in building broad public support of these newsrooms as a shared resource rather than profit-generating advertising businesses. Free of profit incentives, nonprofit outlets are enabling the entrepreneurship and innovation that is reshaping news media as a more equitable field—meeting consumers where they are as news consumption patterns change. Nonprofit models also have proven critical to supporting investigative and deep explanatory and subject-expert news reporting.

A $7 million nonprofit, INN serves as the hub and field-builder driving and supporting growth of the member network. INN programs strengthen the entrepreneurial muscle of the field and the organizational capacity of news outlets at all stages of growth, through fundraising, earned revenue, audience development, content distribution and leadership training, as well as access to resources that support good governance. INN serves as the central source developing best practices in nonprofit news through standards of transparency, excellence in journalism, and diversity, equity and inclusion reporting and accountability.

“This network has great momentum, and at INN, an exceptional staff deeply committed to INN member newsrooms and the communities they serve. To have a news leader like Karen Rundlet bring new vision and direction is a great day for journalism and the civic life it supports in our democracy,” Cross said. “This nonprofit news movement is just beginning.”

About INN

The Institute for Nonprofit News strengthens and supports more than 425 independent news organizations in a new kind of news network: nonprofit, nonpartisan and dedicated to public service. From local news to in-depth reporting on pressing global issues, members of the INN Network tell stories that otherwise would go untold – connecting communities, holding the powerful accountable and strengthening democracy. INN programs help these news organizations develop revenue and business models to support strong reporting, collaborate on editorial and business innovation, share services and advance the diverse leaders who are forging a new future for news.

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