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Laura Arnold, Richard Kinder, and more pump $20M into Houston nonprofit news outlet

Laura Arnold, Richard Kinder pump $20M into nonprofit news outlet

Laura and John Arnold Arnold Ventures
Laura Arnold (pictured with husband John) is a big backer of the project. ArnoldVentures.com

Houston will soon have a new source for independent and community-minded journalism, thanks to a $20 million infusion by a group of local nonprofits.

Houston Endowment, the Kinder Foundation, and Arnold Ventures announced the launch of an independent Houston nonprofit news operation in Houston that promises to be one of the largest in the country, according to a press release.

The operation is slated to launch in late 2022 or early 2023 on multiple platforms, the new nonprofit news organization will “elevate the voices of Houstonians and address the needs of the community” as identified in the American Journalism Project’s extensive research.

Specifically, this project was cultivated after a two-year research effort, led by the American Journalism Project. The organization relied on focus groups, community listening sessions, and surveys conducted in four different languages, as well as content analyses of existing coverage to examine local information gaps and news needs.

Notably, this new operation will be free to readers as well as other news organizations. Name, news coverage strategies, and office location will be determined by its new leadership, the announcement notes.

The organization is described as being charged with striving to be the center of conversation about Houston’s critical issues, bridge communities, and foster community engagement while building a vibrant and active following, a release adds.

An introductory web page at localnewsforhouston.org has been created; currently applications for CEO and editor-in-chief are being accepted there.

A search committee for staffing includes:

  • Ann Stern, President & CEO, Houston Endowment
  • Dr. Anne Chao, Manager of the Houston Asian American Archive, Rice University
  • Armando Perez, Executive Vice President, H-E-B Houston, chairman, United Way Greater Houston
  • Jeff Cohen, Executive Vice President, Arnold Ventures
  • Reginald DesRosches, Howard R. Hughes Provost and President-Elect, Rice University
  • Rich Kinder, chairman, Kinder Foundation, and Executive Chairman, Kinder Morgan Inc.

“Commercial news organizations across the United States have rapidly declined in recent years, a trend that directly undermines the foundations of American democracy,” said Laura Arnold, co-founder and co-chair of Arnold Ventures, in a statement. “A free press is essential, and until the industry finds its footing, philanthropy must do its part to help strengthen and safeguard the Fourth Estate. We have long invested in nonprofit journalism, and we are honored to support the establishment of a robust newsroom endeavor in our hometown.”

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