RJI was launched in 2004 with a grant of $31 million from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. The Institute engages media professionals, scholars and other citizens in programs aimed at strengthening journalism in the service of democracy. RJI generates and tests new techniques and new thinking that promise to improve journalism.
In 2015, The Donald W. Reynolds Institute helped launch the ‘Accountable Journalism’ website in conjunction with the Ethical Journalism Network. This site includes the largest database of media codes in a user-friendly and searchable Web application. One goal of the Accountable Journalism project is to be an ongoing crowdsourcing initiative to keep the database current.