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For journalism institute, a new name to honor its founder

The institute that Philadelphia philanthropist H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest founded to sustain high-quality news reporting is getting a new name:

The Lenfest Institute for Journalism.

"I'm not ego-driven," Lenfest said on Thursday, but "this one I was honored to accept."

The institute board of managers voted unanimously for the change, despite Lenfest's initial resistance.

The new name seeks to recognize the Lenfest family's vision and commitment to journalism — and its role in a robust democracy — in Philadelphia and across the country.

The original name, the Institute for Journalism in New Media, was seen as somewhat generic and cumbersome.

The institute also is launching a website,, to announce grant initiatives, journalism programs, and the development of new technologies. Details about how the public can support the institute will be posted there.

In January 2016, Lenfest announced that he had donated Philadelphia Media Network — owner of the Inquirer, Daily News, and — to the new institute, which was then placed under the umbrella of the Philadelphia Foundation. The joining of news company, media institute, and charitable foundation broke ground in a perilous economic environment for traditional news organizations.

In the last decade, the Inquirer and its sister publications have been battered by cutbacks, layoffs, and management and ownership upheaval, striving to go forward as readers migrate online and advertising revenue shrinks.

The institute works to find new ways that PMN and other companies can not only survive but also prosper. Lenfest donated $20 million to endow the institute, and David Haas and the Wyncote Foundation have pledged $5 million. Lenfest serves on PMN's governing board and chairs the institute board of managers.

"My wife, Marguerite, and I are deeply humbled by the board's decision to recognize our commitment to local journalism," he said. "Independent and honest journalism has never been more important than it is today."