Local journalism in New Mexico is pressing forward, thanks to Press Forward. 

A coalition of some of the nation’s largest nonprofit foundations has just announced that New Mexico is joining 10 other new Press Forward Chapters, as part of a $500 million effort to rebuild and revitalize local news around the U.S. 

Press Forward New Mexico will be co-lead by the Santa Fe-based Thornburg Foundation and UNM’s longtime partner, the New Mexico Local News Fund. 

The move comes just as the state approved a second round of groundbreaking support for UNM’s Local News Fellowship and Internship program. 

Since 2019, UNM and the New Mexico Local News Fund have worked together to place graduates from UNM, NMSU and ENMU into newsrooms around the state, helping build a pipeline of diverse journalists – from intern to full-timers.   

In 2023, New Mexico attracted national attention for an innovative investment of $125,000 in the fellowship and internship program. That’s led to even more funding, as this week Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham approved a two-year, $200,000 appropriation to the Department of Workforce Solutions to continue the effort. 

“Bringing Press Forward to New Mexico will be transformative to our local news ecosystem,” Local News Fund Executive Director Rashad Mahmood said. “The chance to collaborate with top foundations and funders in our state to support local news is a game-changer for our underserved communities who often struggle to get the news and information they need.”  

The Thornburg Foundation has long supported UNM’s journalism efforts, including the People, Power and Democracy Project, which partnered UNM student journalists with KUNM, KNME and New Mexico in Depth for collaborative state government reporting.  

The Thornburg Foundation strongly believes in the power of local journalism and its power to inform and educate the public, increase government accountability, and strengthen our democracy, “ Thornburg Foundation Executive Director Allan Oliver said. “We are excited to participate in a coalition of New Mexico funders in Press Forward, which will help bring national investment and help strengthen trusted news in communities around our state.”  

C&J Professor of Practice Gwyneth Doland was in Miami for the NM Press Forward chapter announcement, held at the Knight Media Forum. She’s confident that this joint fundraising effort will help UNM develop fresh talent for local news.   

“UNM is incredibly lucky to have the New Mexico Local News Fund as a partner in innovation for things like our Local News Fellowship and Internship program, which is working right now to strengthen the state’s news ecosystem. With Press Forward’s help I know we can do even more,” she said. 

Other Press Forward New Mexico philanthropic partners include the Albuquerque Community Foundation, Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico, McCune Charitable Foundation, New Mexico Foundation and Santa Fe Community Foundation. 

With these partners, Press Forward New Mexico aims to raise $3 million over five years which would be matched by the national Press Forward team. Press Forward New Mexico will offer philanthropic leaders, civic-minded individuals and regional foundations the opportunity to pool their dollars to support the robust network of independent news outlets that are serving the information needs of New Mexico’s diverse communities.   

“The challenge of rebuilding America’s local news landscape is vast, and will depend on multi-layered solutions at the local and national level,” Press Forward Director Dale R. Anglin said. “Press Forward Locals are critical to our success. These leaders are closest to their communities and can identify authentic approaches for their cities and states.”  

Press Forward New Mexico also now has the chance to apply for up to $250,000 in Catalyst Funds to accelerate their work, as well as access to tech assistance, a network of supportive journalists and professional development and training.  

Being a chapter will not only raise unprecedented resources to revitalize local news, but spur proven models and solutions to address crises and close longstanding inequities in coverage and practice. It will also be yet another foundation for these C&J Lobos to build their journalistic careers in their home state.  

The Press Forward builds on UNM’s recent success in raising money for journalism projects.  nicely with over $125,000 in recent New Mexico state legislature appropriation, helping to double the number of local news fellows in 2023-24. It’s clear quality local journalism in New Mexico, according to Doland, is heading in the right direction. 

“Local news is facing an existential crisis but New Mexico has been a leader in working on solutions to the problems that threaten our industry and its ability to support a robust democracy,” Doland said. “I’m thrilled that some of our state’s largest and most effective charitable organizations are committed to raising money for innovative solutions to this crisis.”