Journalists have a lot of high-minded ideals about journalism. We don't always live up to these ideals, but in Philadelphia, the William Penn Foundation decided to put some money behind the concept that journalism should be a public service. It created the Center for Public Interest Journalism and the Philadelphia Public Interest Information Network (now AxisPhilly). It put millions of dollars directly into public interest journalism, with a three-year runway to figure out what shape such an endeavor could take.
And yet it failed. Why? (And why am I attempting to answer this?*)
At the risk of burning bridges, I want to attempt an answer that helps push the public conversation forward, in the direction of revived public interest reporting in Philadelphia.