Russell Cowles will match your gift to the TC Media Alliance / TC Daily Planet

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Who was that masked man, anyways?

No, it wasn’t the Lone Ranger, and he wasn’t actually wearing a mask, but at the Daily Planet’s Pick of the Market fundraising dinner last Sunday, one man, who requested anonymity, did step up and offer to match all donations to the non-profit Twin Cities Media Alliance and TC Daily Planet, up to a maximum of $5,000.

(Donating is easy: just follow this link to the secure donation page at http://givemn.razoo.com/story/Twin-Cities-Media-Alliance .)

Our benefactor didn’t want any attention at the dinner, but he has since given permission to reveal his identity: he is Russell Cowles.

 If that name sounds familiar, that’s because the Cowles family has long been associated with philanthropy and journalism in the Twin Cities. The Cowles family owned the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Des Moines Register, and numerous other media properties. Members of the Cowles family established the Cowles Media Foundation, which later became the Star Tribune Foundation, and have been prominent supporters of Twin Cities cultural institutions, ranging the Guthrie Theater and the Cowles Center for Dance to the Humphrey Institute and the first women’s  fastpitch professional softball league in the country, as well as causes including Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.

Russell Cowles’ generosity is part of an old American tradition. In the heyday of American newspapers, many of the best American dailies were owned by prominent local families, such as the Cowles in Minneapolis and Des Moines, the Binghams in Louisville, the Chandlers in Los Angeles and the Sulzbergers in New York City. They saw themselves not just as businessmen and women, but as community leaders, and saw their philanthropy as a smart investment in the vitality of their community.

So why does Cowles, whose family made its fortune in print, want to support an online publication? “I’m looking to the future,” said Cowles.

You can help the Media Alliance earn this match by going online to http://givemn.razoo.com/story/Twin-Cities-Media-Alliance.  That’s also a good place to find out more about the work of the Media Alliance and TC Daily Planet.

This is a great opportunity to double the impact of your gift. But please act now; the offer ends at midnight on Sunday, September 23.