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The MIF Newsletter

October 2020
J-Funders 2020: The Annual Gathering of Journalism Funders

Here's what the journalism funders have been up to 
(in case you were wondering)

Earlier this month, we convened our peers for our annual journalism funders gathering to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing journalism—and our nation—today. 

Zoom fatigue is real, and we are that much more grateful for the network’s participation our virtual format. We also know that many of you are juggling work and other family responsibilities, whether it’s your kids’ remote learning or caring for a loved one. Because of that, we’ve recorded all of our plenary discussions so that you can watch them at a time that’s more convenient for you.

We hope you'll take a few minutes to listen to what some of our speakers had to say, because we tackled a few topics that require urgent and further attention:

  • Efforts to spread lies online are intensifying. What can funders do about it? For one, we need to activate the communities that are being targeted by disinformation. Two, funders should start collaborating, because we need to fight the problem at scale.
     
  • There are persistent issues preventing the advancement of equity and diversity in newsroom culture. Step 1? The most innovative industries talk about their problems. We need to talk openly about sexual harassment and the lack of training and advancement in the newsroom, especially for women and people of color. 
     
  • What do we have to do to ensure that our media ecosystem in 2070 looks drastically different than today? In service to transformative change, we're starting to see foundations make substantial commitments to black-led organizations. And there are other efforts to gather and amplify diverse voices.
Watch J-Funders 2020
For those who attended, if our two days of programming and breakout sessions introduced you to new people, new ideas, or a new way forward, we'd love to hear about it. Fill out the survey.

New MIF report shows scope
of community foundation funding for journalism

We've just released a new data snapshot—Community Foundations & Journalism: Funding Data from 2009-2019—looking at the role of community foundations in supporting journalism. Spoiler alert: Giving to journalism among community foundations is WAY up since 2009.

MIF is attempting to ignite a conversation among community foundations to better understand the scope of their funding. Do you work for a community foundation that's currently supporting or has plans to support journalism? We want to know what you're working on: journalism@mediafunders.org.
 
Read the report

Upcoming Events

ONLINE FUNDER DISCUSSION
Post-election check-in: Now what?
(Let's discuss.)

Tuesday, Dec. 1 | Noon-1 p.m. ET
The 2016 presidential election led to the organization of regular calls with funders from around the country to help find common points of entry to make their work effective and efficient through strategic partnerships. These calls have helped keep our funders more closely connected these last four years. 

Now, as we are casting our ballots for the 2020 presidential election, we’re putting an open funder call on the books because regardless of who wins in November, we know you’ll have plenty to discuss.

Save the date and register now. More details to come.
 
Register now
This is a funders-only discussion.
All funders, regardless of programmatic focus, are encouraged to attend.

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

Our commitment to building a more equitable media ecosystem
Media Impact Funders is committed to elevating discussions on the current state of media equity, and what it will take to support marginalized media makers and the communities they represent. We will continue to shine a light on and share opportunities, challenges and best practices with our network of funders who support media in the public interest. The first in a series of conversations among journalism funders focused on the topic focused on the ways in which journalists are engaging diverse communities while covering American politics—and what funders can do now to ensure a more equitable media ecosystem in the future. See more on media equity..

We have the latest data and trends on environmental media grantmaking. Want it? It's free.
Environmental media grantmaking is one of the most active areas of media philanthropy right now. Our latest report, "Environmental Media Grantmaking: How Funders Are Tipping the Scales Toward Change," highlights examples of innovative projects, and features key insights from funders and media makers in the field. We discussed findings from the report and heard from many of the essay authors as part of our 2020 Media Impact Forum focusing on philanthropy, media and the environment. Read the report.

The latest on our media impact assessment work
To further explore these and other issues related to media impact and assessment, MIF is forming a working group of funders who want to strengthen the field of practice. Are you interested in learning more? Contact us.

COVID-19 funding resources tracker
Journalism funders around the country and the world are responding to the COVID-19 crisis with a variety of funding initiatives aimed at sustaining critical public interest information needs. MIF is tracking these funding resources and will continue updating the list as more resources become available. See the list of COVID-19 funding resources.

News from the Field

  • "Coded Bias," which explores the startling discovery by an MIT researcher that facial recognition software does not accurately detect dark skin, is releasing in virtual theaters next month, and on Independent Lens in Spring 2021. We featured the documentary, and filmmaker Shalini Kantayya, at our annual funder meeting at Sundance earlier this year. Learn more.
Watch the trailer for "Coded Bias."
  • If you can, tune in tomorrow, Oct. 22, from 2-3 p.m. to the Local That Works Gala, which celebrates excellence in local public service media. Hosted by 1A's new host, Jenn White, the event features five finalists who are competing for a $20,000 grand prize. Local That Works is a partnership of Public Media Futures and Current.org, and is funded by the Wyncote Foundation. Learn more and register.
     
  • It's that time of year again! NewsMatch, the national grassroots campaign to support nonprofit news organizations, will run Nov. 1-Dec. 31 this year. Now in its fifth year, the campaign—supported by Democracy Fund, Knight Foundation, the Facebook Journalism Project and many others—is reporting that 267 newsrooms are participating; that's a 35% increase over last year. Learn more.
     
  • Speaking of local news, here's just another story reminding us of its importance and what can happen when it disappears: The New York Times is reporting that a fast-growing network of news websites (about 1,300) is publishing stories directed by political groups and public relations firms to promote a Republican agenda. Read more.
     
  • Funders and the news outlets they support are turning their attention to preparing audiences to deal with the possibility that they may not know the outcome of the election on Nov. 3. Nonprofit outlet Resolve Philly has developed a guide to help journalists communicate election results, including explaining delays in ballots and proactively refuting early claims of victory. Similarly, the Election Coverage and Democracy Network is a new initiative offering nonpartisan, evidence-based recommendations to journalists covering the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
     
  • Related to above, Election SOS—an initiative by the news engagement experts at Hearken—is offering journalists support ahead of the election, whether it's digital safety training, best practices or resources. We heard from Hearken's CEO about how Election SOS works. Watch the discussion.
     
  • A year ago, a group of program officers from foundations across the country sat down to talk through the racist structures that shape philanthropic efforts aiming to transform journalism. Their takeaways and recommendations for action are presented in “Equity First: Transforming Journalism and Journalism Philanthropy in a New Civic Age,” created by Frontline Solutions. The report is rooted in what the Kerner Commission of 1968 found: that the extreme lack of media diversity and equity is a driving force of inequality.  Read more about the report and the call to action for journalism and journalism funders.
     
  • In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Curtis Flowers for the murder of four people inside a furniture store in Mississippi in 1996. Flowers had been tried six times for the same crime—twice ending in a mistrial with hung juries and three times having been thrown out over prosecutorial misconduct. The case caught the attention of American Public Media’s award-winning podcast series, In the Dark. The team devoted significant effort to digging up the facts of the case, and it's a profound example of how reporting can have significant impact on justice and policy. In the final episode of Season 2, released earlier this month, Flowers himself speaks for the first time. Listen here.
     
  • The National Geographic Society has announced a partnership with Adobe to bring free, on-demand educational materials into the virtual classroom to increase digital literacy and creative expression among young storytellers. Learn more. 
     
  • The International Documentary Association (IDA) has unveiled 13 films receiving $850,000 in funds as part of its Enterprise Documentary Fund production grants. Read more.
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