Tom Rosenstiel

Executive Director

An author, journalist, researcher and media critic, Tom Rosenstiel is one of the nation’s most recognized thinkers on the future of media. Before joining the American Press Institute in January 2013, he was founder and for 16 years director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism at the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., and co-founder and vices chair of the Committee of Concerned Journalists. He is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

He is the author of nine books, including his two novels. His first, Shining City (2017), about a supreme court nomination, was an NPR Book of the Year. His second, The Good Lie (2019), about a terrorist incident, was a Washington Post best seller. His third, Oppo, will appear in December 2019.

Tom has written seven books on journalism, politics and ethics. Among them is The Elements of Journalism: What News People Should Know and the Public Should Expect, co-authored with Bill Kovach, which has been translated into more than 25 languages and is used widely in journalism education worldwide. It has been called “a modern classic” (NYT) and one of the five best books ever written on journalism (WSJ).

Taken together, Tom’s media criticism, his nonfiction books and his research work at API and at PEJ have generated more than 50,000 academic citations.

During his journalism career he worked as media writer for the Los Angeles Times for a decade, chief congressional correspondent for Newsweek, press critic for MSNBC, business editor of the Peninsula Times Tribune, a reporter for Jack Anderson’s Washington Merry Go ‘Round column, and began his career at the Woodside Country Almanac in his native northern California.

Among his awards are the Goldsmith book Award from Harvard, four Sigma Delta Chi Awards for Journalism Research from SPJ and four awards for national for media criticism from Penn State. He has been named a fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists, the organization’s highest honor, the Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism from the University of Missouri Journalism School, the Dewitt Carter Reddick Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement in the Field of Communications from the University of Texas at Austin, and the Columbia Journalism School Distinguished Alumni Award.

Email Tom at tom.rosenstiel@pressinstitute.org or follow him @TomRosenstiel.

Getting started: Some templates and tools for encouraging organic news fluency

Every story is an opportunity to have a conversation with your audience about what journalism is for and how journalists conduct their work. Each type of story presents different questions and different ways to encourage news fluency, in an organic and contextual manner. In this section, we’ll list nine types of stories and the unique […]

Journalists can change the way they build stories to create organic news fluency

When journalists talk about how they wish the public could recognize good reporting from bad reporting or even fakery, the subject often turns to whether the audience has the right skills. The discussion usually falls under the heading of “news literacy,” a body of work that typically involves a curriculum supervised by schools, heavily oriented […]

Next steps for promoting organic news fluency

We hope this essay will provoke some new ideas about how to help people become more discriminating consumers of news. Our recommendations boil down to a few basic ideas: Journalists have a role to play in helping consumers become more discriminating. Being fluent as a news consumer is not only the responsibility of news audiences. […]

Charting new ground: The ethical terrain of nonprofit journalism

Overview A different kind of revenue, one that has nothing to do with advertising or subscriptions, is playing a larger role in journalism today. Nonprofit funding, once largely the province of public broadcasting, is becoming an important source of support for a new cohort of non-commercial news organizations —  many of them digital natives — […]

Download a PDF and topline results: The ethical terrain of nonprofit journalism

For printing and offline viewing, a PDF of the report and the topline results for the nonprofit news outlets, commercial news outlets, and funders are available for download.

Methodology for our survey of media and funders

The surveys of foundations and media organizations do not represent of all media-funding foundations, nonprofit media organizations or commercial news outlets in the United States. The precise size and scope of that universe is difficult to determine, but efforts were made to have as comprehensive and representative sample as possible. Although the surveys are not […]

Essays on the ethics of funders and nonprofit media

Surveys can be a valuable research tool because they can offer some sense of scale. But they do not allow respondents to articulate their ideas in depth. As a consequence, we commissioned five essays from prominent stakeholders in the journalism-funding eco-system: Two are from nonprofit news outlets, two from foundations that fund media, and one […]

A look at the landscape of nonprofit journalism

Although not all foundations or news organizations in the United States were surveyed, the data enhance our understanding of the world of nonprofit journalism in general and the landscape of newer nonprofit media in particular. This community shares many goals, experiences and problems with a variety of perspectives. Nonprofit news organizations A total of 94 […]

Motivations and potential conflicts of those who fund news organizations

The foundations and nonprofit media organizations surveyed are almost equally divided on the overall motive behind the financial support for media. Less than half of funders (43 percent) and nonprofits (40 percent) both say nonprofit media funding is “journalism driven,” indicating that media is funded in order to “strengthen a free press and to educate […]

What metrics and outcomes funders ask for from news organizations

Another issue in the nonprofit news landscape is about metrics, or proof that work being underwritten is reaching an audience or perhaps having even more of an impact — such as changing public attitudes on an issue. The question of metrics is hardly new. Commercial news organizations for years have used some numbers to establish […]