Focused on ensuring both the supply of and demand for high quality local news and information at a time of unprecedented change.

The Steinman Institute for Civic Engagement was created by WITF following the Steinman Family’s gift of LNP to WITF in 2023. Prompted by that gift, The Steinman Foundation made a five-year grant to WITF to provide seed funding to establish the Institute.   

The Steinman Institute for Civic Engagement is supporting the merger of WITF & LNP, the first merger of its kind outside of a major metro area in the country. It is focused on ensuring the supply of local media at a time of unprecedented change – ensuring the essential public good that is local media endures for generations. At the same time, it is using Lancaster County as a laboratory to address the underlying demand for local media through innovation, education and civic engagement.  

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Why does the Steinman Institute Exist?  

The internet, unregulated social media, and the rise of artificial intelligence have knocked local journalism off its foundation. Since the mid-2000s, more than 2,500 newspapers have stopped publishing and employment at US newspapers has declined more than 50%. Many remaining newspapers are now owned by public companies or hedge funds without regard to the communities they purportedly serve.  

When communities lose their newspapers, they are negatively impacted in quantifiable ways: Municipal borrowing costs increase, civic engagement diminishes, fewer people run for public office and polarization increases.  

Local media maintains core community connections, it informs and educates, it gives voice to all, it promotes the local economy, and it keeps government and elected officials accountable at every level. Effective local media has the power to connect and unify rather than divide and polarize. It is a critical ingredient in creating and sustaining democracy itself.  

What will the Steinman Institute Do?

The Steinman Institute is focusing its efforts first in the community LNP has called home for nearly 230 years – Lancaster County.

Lancaster will be a laboratory for how robust local media plus education and engagement can result in a sustainable news models and improved civic engagement. It will be recording research, innovations and results to inform expansion within Central Pennsylvania and beyond. 

Local Journalism

The Institute will ensure the robust local news and information coverage for which LNP and WITF are known and support expansion into new markets.  

Employees engaged in professional development

Professional Development

The Institute will support the career development of journalists through fellowships, internships, training, education and more. 


The Institute will research and test innovations in local media in support of a sustainable business model.

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A teacher and students in a classroom

Education & Media Literacy

The Institute will promote the development and usage of digital citizenship and civics curriculum in K-12 and collegiate education.  

It will advocate for the creation and adoption of a Media Literacy policy and curriculum across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

Civic Engagement

The Institute will research, test, pilot and expand civic engagement efforts that connect, educate and inspire residents of Lancaster County and Central Pennsylvania.  

The Institute will create and support spaces and structures that allow for civic discourse.  

The Institute will rebuild both an appetite for and trust in local news. 

Bob Krasne (Chair)
Chair & CEO, Steinman Communications; Co-Chair, Steinman Foundation
Ron Hetrick headshot
Journalist David Greene
Jim Hoehn
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Aron Pilhofer, Chief Product Officer at Star Tribune Media Company in Minneapolis, MN
Shane Zimmerman
President, Steinman Communications; President, Steinman Foundation

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