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February 2022


The 2022 Media Impact Forum

Wednesday, June 1 | 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
National Geographic Society | Washington, D.C.

Audience: All funders

We’re thrilled to be hosting our annual flagship event—the Media Impact Forum—in person at the offices of the National Geographic Society, one of our most valued partners. The Media Impact Forum offers funders the unique opportunity to connect and find common points of entry into the critically important work of supporting media in the public interest. We hope you'll join us for this inspiring day of funder discussions, media showcases, flash talks, plenty of networking and reconnection, and more. 

For anyone who can't make the trip, we will livestream the event. And keeping the health and safety of our network in mind, we’ll switch to an all-virtual format if necessary.

This is a funders-only event.
Register now

Make the case for local journalism using "Storm Lake"

Funders interested in increasing support for local news and media in their region should take note of the documentary film “Storm Lake,” about a family-run Iowa newspaper that has been struggling to keep local journalism alive in its community. In a recent webinar, we explored the role funders can play in building and supporting a strong media ecosystem in their region, and presented a playbook for making the case to donors for increased media and journalism investments in their community. Want to learn more about how to use the film in screenings and discussions with local donors and prospects as a way to stimulate local interest in supporting media organizations? Start here.

A new organization is striving to make the documentary film ecosystem more inclusive

A new field-building organization called the Color Congress is working toward supporting transformational, mutually supportive work among people of color-led and serving organizations in the nonfiction and documentary field. Seeded through a pooled fund by the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and Perspective Fund, the Color Congress will distribute more than $1 million for two-year unrestricted grants to organizations in the ecosystem, and $1.05 million in field-building grants to resource infrastructure and collaborative, field-led work each year. The organization is led by Sonya Childress, currently a senior fellow with the Perspective Fund, and longtime documentary impact strategist Sahar Driver. Learn more.

Here's how you can use data about grantmaking in media and democracy to better inform your decisions

With President Biden recently calling the defense of democracy the "defining challenge of our time," funders are eager to find effective opportunities to address the state of democracy here and around the world. We recently hosted a workshop in partnership with Candid that focuses on two specific maps with relevancy to funders of media and democracy: The media grants data map, hosted by MIF, and the democracy grants data map, hosted by Candid. These maps are critical tools in understanding the landscape of philanthropically funded public-interest media and democracy initiatives. Access the workshop.

Inside the $61 million deal to save local journalism in Chicago

We recently invited Tracy Brown, WBEZ’s Chief Content Officer, to give details about the recent merger/acquisition between WBEZ and The Chicago Sun-Times—now a nonprofit newspaper—and what it means for local journalism in Chicago. Chicago Public Media raised $61 million in philanthropic support for the deal. Get the scoop.

MIF new members alert!

We're thrilled to welcome Luminate, the Charles H. Revson Foundation and the Curve Foundation as members. Luminate, part of the Omidyar Network, is a global philanthropic organization that works primarily in four areas: Civic Empowerment, Data & Digital Rights, Financial Transparency, and Independent Media. The Revson Foundation, focused on civic infrastructure in New York City, is a founding donor of the nonprofit news organization The City. The Curve Foundation sponsors the Curve Award, which recognizes and supports emerging journalists focused on raising the visibility of LGBTQ+ women, trans and non-binary people. See our full member list.

Member spotlight: The Heinz Endowments

The Heinz Endowments, a member of MIF since 2015, can be counted among the stalwart philanthropic supporters of local journalism and free expression. Over the last eight years under the leadership of Grant Oliphant, journalism became more and more central to the foundation’s programmatic priorities as the importance of advancing public awareness came into clearer view. The Endowments has championed efforts to build and sustain Pittsburgh's media ecosystem, supporting several news organizations focused on bringing marginalized voices to the table. Last year, the Endowments published a study on media coverage of Pittsburgh’s Black community, finding that the majority of coverage of African Americans focused on crime and sports. With Grant departing in March to lead the Conrad Prebys Foundation in San Diego, and with the departure of the Endowments' 40-year veteran Janet Sarbaugh—who has managed the arts and journalism portfolio—it feels like the right time to take stock of the journalism and media initiatives that Heinz has supported in recent years. Read more.
  • This past weekend, "60 Minutes" aired an important segment about the decline of local news in the U.S., the existential threat posed to local newsrooms by their hedge fund owners, and the disastrous implications for our democracy. As part of the segment, Report for America president and co-founder Steve Waldman points to the ever-increasing importance of philanthropic support in the rebuilding of local news. But he also says the government can and should play a role by incentivizing citizens to pay for news with tax credits. There's more, but we highly recommend watching and sharing this "60 Minutes" segment.
  • Report for America also just released a new strategy to bolster local news called Community News Funds, in which community foundations work in conjunction with local news leaders to create a single, permanent fund that would support local news in the long-term. Seven of the communities profiled in a new case study report have raised $15 million over three years with variations of this model. The report was released alongside this really nice explainer video.
  • Last year, Borealis Philanthropy made $3.6 million in grants to 28 POC-led and POC-serving organizations. As part of its work to support BIPOC media, the organization asked its grantees a series of questions to get a better picture of the BIPOC media landscape. Take a look at the responses.
  • Speaking of Borealis, here's something important to bookmark—this Twitter thread, started by Alicia Bell, director of the Borealis Racial Equity in Journalism Fund:
  • So many docs, so little time, but all of these are worth watching: "Writing With Fire," "Attica," and "Summer of Soul" all got Oscar nods in the documentary category. "Writing With Fire" also recently won a SIMA Award.  
  • Elizabeth Christopherson, President and CEO of the Rita Allen Foundation (and Vice Chair of MIF's Board of Directors), wrote a piece for the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society about civic science as an approach to effectively address today's complex societal challenges. Civic science calls for leaders and networks with new ideas, new mindsets, and far greater participation among diverse communities.
  • Last month, the Colorado Media Project—a funder coalition that includes the Colorado Health Foundation, the Gates Family Foundation, Democracy Fund and others—announced $1 million in grants on advancing equity in local news and strengthening service to Colorado’s diverse communities.
  • Save the date and dust off those suitcases. The International Journalism Festival is coming up on April 6-10 in Perugia, Italy. Yes, you read that correctly. It's in person.

Want your new grant, project, partnership, collaboration or news item included in our next  newsletter? Let us know!

MIF members connect, collaborate, share resources, build knowledge, and ultimately make more strategic media investments.

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