Press Forward’s new director, plus a newspaper hero


Dale R. Anglin just became one of the most sought-after people in the local news industry.

Press Forward, the $500 million philanthropic program to support local journalism, on Tuesday named Anglin its inaugural director. She is currently vice president for proactive grantmaking at the Cleveland Foundation.

When, how and where those dollars will be spent has been an open question since a coalition of 22 nonprofits announced Press Forward in September.

Brier Dudley's SAVE THE FREE PRESS columns are made available for free to the public and to other newspapers for their use — to build awareness of the local journalism crisis and potential solutions. The entire body of work is viewable here:

More clarity is likely now that key personnel are hired. Anglin’s hiring comes a month after Maribel Wadsworth, a former Gannett executive, began serving as president of the Knight Foundation, Press Forward’s co-founder.

Further updates are expected next week at a Knight conference in Miami.

Anglin said in an interview that there should be some “money out the door” within 90 to 120 days. But she doesn’t officially start the job until March 11 and plans to spend the next month or two doing “a lot of listening.”

“I will spend a lot of time trying to get in front of people. We have some key pillars we want to execute on,” she said.

One pillar is building a network of local Press Forward affiliates, raising money in communities for local journalism because $500 million is only a fraction of what’s needed. Anglin said fundraising is a big part of her job.

“Dale’s deep experience in leading funder collaboratives, centering equity, and growing nonprofit journalism initiatives will serve this coalition well as we continue to build a movement for local news,” John Palfrey, president of Press Forward’s other co-founder, the MacArthur Foundation, said in the release.

Anglin does not have a journalism background but helped lead foundations that funded local-news startups.

In Cleveland, where Anglin will be based, she serves on the board of Signal.

The nonprofit news organization launched in 2022 after raising more than $7 million from the Cleveland Foundation and others. Signal’s funding has since grown to $15 million, it employs more than 20 people and launched Signal Akron in December.

Earlier Anglin was associate director for programs at the Victoria Foundation in Newark, N.J. It was an early funder of NJ Spotlight, a digital news outlet started in 2009, by veterans of The Star-Ledger newspaper, that was acquired by New Jersey’s PBS station in 2019.

Anglin said emphasizing the community’s educational needs helped build support for NJ Spotlight. She intends to use that approach — highlighting the benefits of local journalism — to encourage Press Forward donors.

“This is not going to be fixed by only national foundations’ funding from parts of the country,” she said. “I want to create more people like me. I was not necessarily a journalism funder, to be honest. I would never have called myself that. But I became one as I saw it was an incredible tool for the strategies we were trying to implement at the two foundations that I’ve worked at. I think there are other funders like that you could convince.”

Another challenge will be finding the balance between saving the local news system and funding new ventures, and between supporting for-profits and nonprofits.

More than 90% of local-news outlets are for-profit and despite some promising successes, nonprofit startups are nowhere close to backfilling what’s lost as newspapers contract and close. A recent tally found around 6,000 local newspapers and 550 digital-only news sites, with nearly all the latter clustered in metro areas.

“I don’t have all the answers to that today,” she said. “But I will just say that if you look at our materials at Press Forward, we have not taken off the table working with some for-profits. We understand there’s multiple parts of the industry and you can’t necessarily just focus on the nonprofit sector. We just haven’t gotten to exactly what that would look like.”

A newspaper hero: Reporters, columnists and publishers get the attention.

But many more people are involved in producing newspapers that, despite the industry’s disruption, continue to inform and strengthen their communities and the nation.

One of them was Chester “Chet” Lusk Jr., who died of cancer at 77 on New Year’s Day. I didn’t know Chet but after reading his obituary in Wednesday’s print edition of The Seattle Times, I wish I had.

I’m grateful that his family shared his story, which was also touching to read on Valentine’s Day.

In appreciation, here’s an excerpt:

He studied at San Jacinto College and the University of Houston with a focus on marine biology until he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1966 and deployed to Vietnam.

Of that time, Chet would say he was “just a grunt” but was honored to serve with the elite 82nd Airborne Division. He volunteered for a second tour because he didn’t want to leave his Army brothers behind. He was awarded for his dedication and service with a Bronze Star, Vietnam Service Medal, and multiple citations for valor and a Purple Heart for wounds sustained in combat.

Discharged from the Army as SSG-E6 in 1968, Chet took a job at The Houston Chronicle in print packaging. He transferred those skills to Seattle after he took a shine to the city during a road trip around the U.S. He worked in print packaging at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and finally The Seattle Times until his retirement in 2007.

More importantly, Chet met his soul mate, Joni Baker, at The Seattle Times, in front of a vending machine. On a break from her job in corporate marketing, Joni was looking for a quick snack. “Pick out anything you want. I’m buying,” Chet told her. Two dates later he knew she was the one. But they were together for 20 years before marrying in 2007 on the beach in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. From that moment on, Chet referred to Joni as “my bride.”

Thank you, Chet, for all you did and condolences to Joni and the family.

Brier Dudley on Twitter: @BrierDudley is editor of The Seattle Times Save the Free Press Initiative. Its weekly newsletter: Reach him at