Tampa Bay Times launches fundraiser to raise money for local news

The annual weeklong campaign sets a goal of $75,000 to support the newsroom. The money would fund a reporter position and pay for costs to obtain documents and data for stories.
The Tampa Bay Times has launched  its annual weeklong fundraiser to support local news.
The Tampa Bay Times has launched its annual weeklong fundraiser to support local news. [ CHRIS URSO | TIMES ]
Published May 14

The journalists who make up the Tampa Bay Times newsroom are determined to hold the powerful to account and give voice to the voiceless.

And, increasingly, we’ve relied on philanthropy and grants to fulfill these core missions.

In 2019, we created the Tampa Bay Times Investigative Fund and, soon after, the Tampa Bay Times Journalism Fund.

Since then, we’ve collected about 7,000 donations from individuals in the community totaling more than $1.3 million.

That’s but a fraction of what the Times earns in advertising and subscriptions. But these philanthropic contributions have taken a more significant role in rounding out our revenue picture.

Your support means the world to us. Simply put: We could not keep as many local journalists employed without it.

Today, we officially launch our third annual weeklong “It’s Your Times” fundraising drive.

We hope you will consider supporting us. Contributions are spread across our newsroom, meaning that they buttress everything we do — from news to sports to entertainment and culture.

Last year, we raised contributions from 573 readers, ranging from $5 to $50,000.

Our target this year is $75,000, enough to pay the salary of one full-time reporter, plus fund our newsroom’s ability to obtain records and documents for storytelling purposes through the rest of the year.

Contributions are tax-deductible because they go through our nonprofit owner, the Poynter Institute. And you can double the impact with a matching gift from your employer.

The need is genuine. Across America, thousands of journalists have lost their jobs in the last couple of years and hundreds of newspapers have shuttered.

Related: Click to contribute to the "It's Your Times" fundraiser

Because of our independence and unique local ownership, we’ve navigated the turbulence better than most. But we are by no means immune to the challenges facing local news operations. The main revenue sources for newspapers have sharply declined. We remain the largest newsroom in Florida, though roughly one-fourth the size compared to 20 years ago.

So, in addition to individual donations, we’ve sought and obtained larger grants to keep serving our readers as best we can. We’ve raised about $750,000 more this way.

Our education coverage, for instance, is funded in part by a relationship forged with the nonprofit newsroom Open Campus. We joined the Open Campus network a year ago to broaden coverage of issues impacting higher education across the country. Open Campus provides funding that has helped propel stories about the takeover of New College and efforts to restrict diversity programs and teacher tenure.

In February, we launched another partnership with KFF Health News, a nonprofit organization with national reach. The collaboration supports quality journalism on health topics and has already proven fruitful. We’ve produced stories about the lingering effects from the BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe and about dental deserts in Florida.

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The arrangement with KFF Health News is part of an expansion spearheaded by the nonprofit newsroom, formerly Kaiser Health News, in communities across the country. It matches money from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and local community nonprofits like the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg. The Times has had a longer relationship with the St. Pete foundation, which initially funded stories about equity across our region.

“High-quality reporting on inequities in health and health care in our community can help to spread awareness about those inequities,” said Carl Lavender, the interim co-chief executive officer of the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, “and awareness is a crucial step in achieving systems-level change.”

The Open Campus and KFF Health News partnerships combined deliver about $150,000 annually to our newsroom. Coupled with the generosity of our readers, the money raised goes a long way toward keeping you informed with news you can trust.

We thank you.