Local news in San Diego has suffered a decline in coverage over the past 15 years, and the James Silberrad Brown Foundation through San Diego Foundation (SDF) is stepping up to help turn that trend around.

The James Silberrad Brown Foundation through SDF is pledging to match up to $125,000 in donations to the San Diego nonprofit newsroom inewsource to support an exciting expansion of the organization’s work to bring the community and journalists together to cover the local news San Diegans need and want.

From now until the end of March, the James Silberrad Brown Foundation is challenging donors to join them in doubling their impact on local democracy.

Marilyn Brown, who oversees her late husband’s fund at SDF alongside Jim’s daughter Kelly, says Jim understood the important role local news plays in keeping an eye on government and on our quality of life. She used to work in finance at the San Diego Union-Tribune and is saddened to see the newspaper’s slow decline, which accelerated after its last sale to a hedge fund in 2023.

Growing Nonprofit News

Marilyn says she and Jim recognized that the growing nonprofit news movement is filling the void once filled by traditional newspapers. They have been happy to support inewsource since its start nearly 15 years ago.

inewsource is special, Marilyn says, because its mission of improving lives in San Diego is essential. It is unique, she says, because its investigative journalism is powered by the community.

“We all need credible information about issues affecting our community and you can only find that from a news organization you can trust,” Marilyn says. “And communities, especially those who have long been overlooked by the traditional media, depend on nonprofit news organizations to shine a light on problems and inspire solutions.”

‘Documenters’ in Action

Marilyn believes Jim would be particularly enthusiastic about a new program inewsource has launched in San Diego as part of its work with communities. Called the Documenters, it recruits everyday people – from students to seniors – to attend public meetings, take notes and publish them for all to be better informed. And inewsource pays its Documenters for attending the meetings!

inewsource hired a San Diego State University grad, Joshua Piedra, to start and manage the program. Joshua, who was raised in Barrio Logan, attended Preuss School and is a first-generation college graduate, is also in the process of building collaborations with local libraries who will help spread the word about the Documenters and offer safe and free meeting spaces for community members involved in the program.

In just a few months, Joshua has forged partnerships with colleges, individuals and community organizations excited to support this community-powered journalism. Partners include Casa Familiar, Pillars of the Community, Chicano Federation, Environmental Health Coalition, and the SDSU School of Journalism and Media Studies. The first Documenters to be dispatched into the community to attend city council, school board and local commission meetings, are currently enrolled in journalism classes. Students receive class credit and get paid.

Lorie Hearn, the CEO, editor and founder of inewsource, says the Documenters will create a new collaboration of government watchdogs.

“Hundreds of public meetings are held each year that get no attention from the media, because there are simply not enough reporters,” she says. “The Documenters is going to change that.”

The Documenters is the marquee program in inewsource’s commitment to community. It is an innovative collaboration between professionally trained journalists and community members who know best what the relevant issues are.

inewsource also hosts community forums on the high-profile issues of the day, and it’s starting a new mobile newsroom program where reporters show up in communities, listen and explain their work.

About the James Silberrad Brown Foundation at SDF

The James Silberrad Brown Foundation through SDF was founded in 2021 in memory of Jim Brown, a local real estate professional and entrepreneur.

Learn more about ways to give with and through San Diego Foundation.

About inewsource

inewsource is a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom dedicated to improving lives in the San Diego region and beyond through impactful, data-based investigative and accountability journalism. Since 2009, inewsource has been San Diego’s destination for investigative and accountability journalism.

One of the first nonprofit newsrooms in the country, inewsource brought a new model of award-winning news to Southern California. To learn more or to donate, visit inewsource.org.