CommonWealth magazine and MassINC receive $1 million gift

BOSTON—MassINC today announced that its award-winning civic journal, CommonWealth magazine, will receive $1 million from an anonymous donor.  The gift is in celebration of MassINC’s 15th anniversary and long-standing contribution to non-partisan reporting on politics and policy in Massachusetts.  MassINC must match the initial $500,000 gift in order to receive the full $1 million.

Today’s announcement launches an 18-month fundraising campaign to meet the challenge, continuing CommonWealth’s legacy as one of the country’s leading, independent news and information outlets.  “The CommonWealth Campaign for Civic Journalism” will run through the fall of 2012 and will include a series of special events and promotions for donors focused on the role of independent media and transparency in public policy.

“Providing the public with long-form, unbiased journalism through CommonWealth magazine was one of the founding principles of MassINC,” said Greg Torres, President of MassINC and Publisher of CommonWealth magazine.  “15 years later, with tangible examples of how it has influenced public policy, the magazine is even more valuable today. We are very grateful to our donors for recognizing this value and for encouraging others to join them in investing in independent journalism.”

CommonWealth is supported by individual and corporate gifts, philanthropy and subscriptions.  In 2009, the magazine received the first of three grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Boston Foundation to begin an online news site and to enhance its investigative reporting arm.  While it pursues revenue generating initiatives like online advertising, CommonWealth continues to rely on philanthropic sources who acknowledge the magazine’s role in providing in-depth reporting on public policy and civic life at a time when this brand of journalism is in danger of disappearing. According to Paper Cuts, a website that tracks layoffs in the news business, 178 American newspapers have closed or stopped publishing a newsprint edition since 2008.

“From a funder’s point of view, investing in CommonWealth magazine is a highly-leveraged opportunity to have an impact on public policy and citizen engagement while supporting award-winning journalism.” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of The Boston Foundation and member, the Knight Foundation Board. “Because traditional news organizations have been forced to scale back investigative and long form journalism,  TBF and Knight have invested in CommonWealth magazine to support the civic journalism critically important to our democracy.  We hope this new anonymous challenge gift will galvanize new donor support for MassINC and CommonWealth.”

CommonWealth magazine was founded in 1996, alongside the start-up of MassINC, a Boston-based think tank utilizing research, journalism and civic events to advance the issues that impact the middle class. First published as a quarterly journal, and now operating as both a print magazine and an online news site, CommonWealth magazine has long been regarded as required reading for policymakers, political pundits and engaged citizens throughout Massachusetts. Through the late 1990’s and throughout the 2000’s, CommonWealth delivered issue after issue of  unique, in-depth reporting  – from a full “special edition” analysis of 15 years of education reform – to continuous coverage, done in 5-year intervals, of the economic status of the Massachusetts middle class – to provocative profiles of Beacon Hill’s most illustrious players.

CommonWealth magazine was launched with an independent editorial mission that would further MassINC’s ability to provide insightful, evidence-based information about the challenges and opportunities facing our citizens and communities,” said Tripp Jones, co-founder of MassINC and first publisher of CommonWealth magazine.  “There were many that doubted its sustainability but now, at 15, the magazine is more relevant than ever and its longevity is a testament to its outstanding content and to the gutsy group of initial backers and ongoing sponsors who continue to embrace this unique brand of journalism.”      

CommonWealth’s recent successes include: groundbreaking investigations into the MBTA, the Probation Department; special education practices, and tax subsidies; long-form articles on education reforms; public records laws; renewable energy, and state and municipal finance reforms.  The magazine has also introduced a number of new features including:

Back Story: A weekly column sent to subscribers that gives the story behind the story in politics and public policy by CommonWealth writers.

The Download: a daily feature that compiles all of the best coverage of politics and public policy from that day’s newspapers, magazines, broadcasts and blogs – complete with analysis to help make sense of it all.

Full Disclosure: a special web page within that provides public data obtained and paid for by CommonWealth to be shared by all free of charge.

CommonWealth Conversations: A series of policy discussions, such as the recent “New Path for Probation” event, which provide moderated analysis of the issues making headlines by players most influential to the outcome.

What Works: Dispatches from across the country that look at successful policies and practices that could be replicated here in Massachusetts.

About MassINC—MassINC is a nonprofit, independent think tank and publisher of CommonWealth magazine that uses non-partisan research, civic journalism and public forums to stimulate debate and shape public policy.  Our mission is to promote a public agenda for the middle class and to help all citizens achieve the American dream.

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