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The MIF Newsletter

April 2021
Dear friends and colleagues,

Funders can play a key role in bridging the gap between science and the community, especially at such a critical time for our nation and our planet. But we need to ensure that no community is left behind. Even with increasing interest in science communication and public engagement with science, people of color are still largely overlooked and undervalued in efforts to engage diverse audiences in topics related to science and health. 

With that context in mind, our Media Impact Forum continues this week with a conversation on Wednesday, April 21, about what efforts funders can support that will make the field of science communications more equitable and inclusive. Our panel of science communications experts will give us an overview of the current state of the field, and they'll share several initiatives and efforts under way to build and sustain this critical field of practice.

While this programming is reserved for funders only, anyone can watch the recordings—and we encourage you to pay special attention to this discussion focusing on a communications framework for understanding and addressing vaccine hesitancy.

In the rest of this newsletter, you'll find the latest news from MIF, from the field, and whatever else we found interesting enough to share with you all here.

Stay well.

Nina Sachdev
Communications Director
Media Impact Funders
 
This is a funders-only conversation.

Upcoming Events

SPECIAL EVENT
The Media Impact Forum:
The path forward to more inclusive
science communications

Wednesday, April 21 | 1-2:30 p.m ET
In the third session of the Media Impact Forum, which this year is focusing on evidence-based communications, we will be exploring what efforts funders can support that will make the field of science communications more equitable and inclusive.

We'll hear from: 
  • Dr. Sunshine Menezes of the University of Rhode Island, who will give us an overview of the state of inclusive science communications
  • Dr. Jedidah Isler, Assistant Professor of Astrophysics at Dartmouth College, who is an outspoken advocate of inclusion and empowerment in STEM fields.
  • Ralph Bouquet, Director of Education and Outreach at NOVA, who will discuss initiatives that are trying to move the needle on inclusive science communications
  • Evelyn Valdez-Ward, a scientist/activist who founded Reclaiming STEM, a workshop that provides training for diverse scientists to learn how to communicate their science at the intersection of research and social justice. 
  • Kishore Hari, who manages strategic partnerships for science engagement at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, will moderate the discussion.
Register now
This is a funders-only discussion.
SAVE THE DATE
J-Funders 2021:
The annual journalism funders gathering

Wednesday, Oct. 13 & Thursday, Oct. 14
Philadelphia, PA
We’re excited to announce that our 2021 Journalism Funders Gathering will take place Oct. 13-14 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Yes, our goal (and our hope) is that we’ll be able to have face-to-face conversations with some of you. We’ll also have an online component for those who aren’t able to take the trip. Depending on health guidelines, if we decide to cancel the in-person meeting entirely, we’ll all convene remotely as we have been. Meeting logistics aside, we're focusing on the "big questions" facing journalism and the funders who support it.

This year’s agenda will feature plenty of networking and participant-led discussions, as well as curated plenaries and discussions on efforts to build and sustain media equity, new initiatives in the field, innovative funding models, and more. Stay tuned for more details as we continue to shape this program. In the meantime, see what we discussed at our 2020 gathering.
 
Register now
This is a funders-only event.

Did you miss an event? We record all of our discussions to make it easier for you to stay connected, at a time that's convenient for you.

Watch our events

MIF News

Mastering vaccine messaging: That's the name of the game right now.

The first two sessions of our Media Impact Forum have concluded, and they are available to watch. The sessions are focused on:
  • Ensuring you have the right communications strategy for your audience. Hesitancy isn't a one-size-fits-all issue. People's fears, objections and reservations vary widely based on a number of factors, so understanding your audience is key here.
  • Funder initiatives and collaborations aimed at boosting vaccine confidence
We still have a ways to go, folks: About 75 million Americans are fully vaccinated, which means we're not even a quarter of the way there. We still need to reach A LOT of people, many of whom have reservations about taking the shot. Watch these recordings for practical, actionable steps and valuable insights to help you continue this important work.
 

Over the years, funders of media & journalism have helped America understand—and come to terms with—its gun violence epidemic

For the first time in several years, political leadership in Congress and the White House is aligned in seeking to create new laws to rein in the worst aspects of American gun violence. So there is a glimmer of hope that Washington might make some progress on an issue that has been gridlocked for many years. Meanwhile, MIF Executive Director Vince Stehle writes, media funders and media makers have devoted tremendous creative and journalistic resources to illuminate this troubled issue. Each of these efforts—reporting initiatives, documentary films, research projects and more—have contributed to our collective understanding of the impact of gun violence on our country. And over the years, we have highlighted many of them. Read more.


As attacks on reproductive rights grow, philanthropy needs to step up support for a counternarrative

MIF Communications Director Nina Sachdev wrote an op-ed for the Chronicle of Philanthropy detailing the dangerous effort anti-abortion activists are engaging in online to mislead and confuse the American public. Their messages are making their way into state capitols where lawmakers across the country use them as the basis for further restricting access to abortion care. A few funders are supporting nonprofits like Abortion Access Front, which deploy less-traditional communications tools to promote a science-based counter-narrative about abortion and women’s health. But more funding is needed urgently to combat the lies. Read more.
 

Watch our 3-part series exploring the problems and solutions of Big Tech

It's impossible to live in the digital world without engaging with Big Tech. While these platforms are making good on the promise of keeping us connected, the effects have been catastrophic. Turns out, holding our attention is part of the business model. Unfortunately, that model is based on algorithms that: 1. Are accused of being biased and disproportionately affect people of color 2. Allow for the rapid spread of misinformation and disinformation and 3. Undercut real, actual journalism. And all of this is wreaking havoc on democracies around the world, including ours. These problems are chilling. But can we fix them? In three important discussions, we explored the threats Big Tech pose to democracy, how philanthropy can support a more equitable technology sector, and what digital public spaces are actually serving all communities. Watch the series.
 

New MIF members alert!

We're thrilled to welcome Trinity Church Wall Street and the Kettering FoundationSee our full member list.

News from the Field

  • How do we prevent the pandemic from becoming a media extinction event? That's the subject of an upcoming discussion on Wednesday, April 28. Over the past year, it has become evident that efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic have been undermined by a concurrent global "infodemic." It has also become clear that public interest media have become more needed and yet more threatened than ever. Organized in collaboration with Luminate and in the lead-up to World Press Freedom Day on May 3, this panel discussion will discuss the roles of public interest media, tech platforms, and global institutions such as the U.N., one year into the infodemic. It will explore what actions should be taken to strengthen our responses to ensure that trusted, impartial information is accessible to all. Save the date and learn more.
     
  • The winner of the MacArthur Foundation's 100&Change competition is Community Solutions, the organization pledging to end homelessness in 75 U.S. cities in 5 years. Chosen among six finalists, Community Solutions use its $100 million award to implement and scale Built for Zero, it's data-driven public health approach to ending homelessness. Learn more.
     
  • There's a canary in the coal mine. No, seriously. Canary Media is a new nonprofit news organization on the scene dedicated to chronicling the transition to a decarbonized economy and society. The org is calling itself the "independent newsroom of record" for the trillion-dollar decarbonization revolution. Learn more.
     
  • The Academy Awards are next weekend, and guess what? "Crip Camp," which chronicles America's disability rights movement, has been nominated for Best Documentary. It was produced by the Obamas' Higher Ground Productions. Also nominated for Best Documentary was "The Mole Agent," funded by ITVS. Learn more.
     
  • LION Publishers, in collaboration with the Google News Initiative and the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, have published the findings of Project Oasis, a database and research project designed to help entrepreneurs launch sustainable local news businesses by showing them the various pathways to success. Check it out.
     
  • Next week, the Scripps Howard Foundation will announce the winners of its Scripps Howard Awards, which honor the best of high-impact journalism. Learn more and register for the virtual show.
     
  • To address the disconnect between Canadian philanthropy and black communities, the Inspirit Foundation, in partnership with the Laidlaw Foundation, has announced a combined $3.85 million to invest in the newly formed Foundation for Black Communities. The foundation will ensure that black-led and black-serving organizations have the funds to meet the needs of black communities. Learn more.
     
  • The New Jersey Civic Information Consortium, created by the state of New Jersey in 2018 to meet the local information needs of New Jersey residents, is now accepting applications for its inaugural round of grant funding. The Consortium traces its roots to the longstanding efforts of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University, and others. The Consortium will elevate the voices of communities of color as part of its mission. Learn more. 
     
  • A media analysis project by Climate Tracker and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security trained 10 young researchers to conduct 99 interviews with journalists in five countries and analyze 2,700 articles in four media languages. The resulting report identifies the challenges that climate journalists face in the rapidly developing "tiger cub economies" of Southeast Asia, and lays out action points for those seeking to enhance accurate energy reporting in the region. Read more.
     
  • Last month, Julie Sandorf, president of the Charles H. Revson Foundation, wrote an interesting piece in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, making the case for pooled funds to save local media. Read more.
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