The MIF Newsletter

February 2021
Dear friends and colleagues,

It has officially been a year since COVID-19 made its way to the U.S., forcing us to into some form of quarantine or another. We've hit our collective pandemic wall, for sure.

But Dr. Fauci was right; help is finally on the way. As of this writing, more than 63 million doses of the vaccine have been administered. It's a good start, but we're not out of the woods yet. In fact, we urgently need a widespread public communications campaign that's rooted in science to build confidence in the vaccine. While COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting people of color, those same groups of people are less likely to trust in the vaccine's safety and efficacy.

And so last week, to kick off our 2021 Media Impact Forum—our annual event that brings diverse funders of public interest media together—we invited our friends at the Center for Public Interest Communications at the University of Florida to share key insights from their new COVID-19 vaccine communications guide. The guide clearly and concisely outlines eight principles for building trust, acceptance and demand for the COVID-19 vaccine. We hope you'll take the time to watch this excellent presentation, as it has insights and takeaways for funders, journalists and media makers.

We'll continue the Media Impact Forum programming on Wednesday, March 17, with examples of what initiatives funders are supporting right now, including funder collaborations that serve to amplify this important work. (To account for Zoom fatigue and everything else, our Media Impact Forum will take place on the third Wednesday of every month from February until June.)
Register for the 2021 Media Impact Forum
In the rest of this newsletter, you'll find the latest news from MIF, from the field, and a few of our upcoming programs—one of which we're planning to hold IN PERSON!

Stay well. 

Nina Sachdev
Communications Director
Media Impact Funders

Upcoming Events

Preview of the Knight Media Forum:
Polarization in America

Tuesday, Feb. 23 | 12:30-1:30 p.m. ET
The impact of polarization on American society cannot be overstated. It is increasingly affecting what we do (masks or no masks?), who we listen to (CNN or OANN?), and even how we think (fair or rigged election?). And the division is only deepening. These days, hostility to those with opposite views has reached a level in which hatred motivates voters more than their own beliefs.

How can journalism, and the people who support it, address polarization in America?

This year’s Knight Media Forum will examine how local news innovators and their supporters are responding to some of these forces, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the national reckoning over systemic racism, and rampant disinformation that undermines the trust needed for democracy to function. KMF will also highlight business models that are gaining traction, and approaches to audience engagement that are changing local journalism from within.

Media Impact Funders is offering funders a special preview of Knight Foundation’s 2021 Knight Media Forum. This meeting provides a chance for those attending (or for those who can’t make it but still want to learn more) to hear a sneak peak of some of the content that will be discussed.
We’ll hear from: This program is co-sponsored with Philanthropy New York.
Register now
This is a funders-only discussion.
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, PA. 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.

This year’s agenda will feature discussions on new initiatives in the field, innovative funding models, efforts to build and sustain media equity, 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

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.

MIF to grow network of journalism funders with Knight Foundation support

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has awarded MIF a $200,000 grant to grow the network of journalism and media funders with events and network-building opportunities, and to create a new informational resource to help funders identify local investment opportunities. Learn more.

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. See more on media equity.


MIF welcomes 2 new members to its Board of Directors

  • Liz Carter is the president and CEO of the Scripps Howard Foundation.
  • Simone Friedman is the head of philanthropy and impact investment at EJF Philanthropies.
See our full board list.

New MIF members alert!

We're thrilled to welcome the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the Snider Foundation, the Colorado Health Foundation and the EarthSense Foundation to our list of members and supporters. See our full member list.

News from the Field

  • Jon Funabiki, founder of Renaissance Journalism and a great friend and colleague to MIF for many years, has announced his retirement. Earlier this month, Jon was honored with the Distinguished Service to Journalism Award by the Society of Professional Journalists for his dedication to collaboration, diversity, inclusion and equity in the media. Read more.
  • The Lumina Foundation has announced the first grants from its $15 million Racial Justice and Equity Fund. Read more.
  • You've heard of Report for America, a finalist in the MacArthur Foundation's 2021 100&Change competition that awards a $100 million grant to fund a single proposal that promises real and measurable progress in solving a critical problem of our time. Well now there's Report for the World, a global service program from the GroundTruth Project that matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists who report on under-covered issues. Read more.
  • Here's Alyssa Quart, executive director of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, on four straightforward ways to democratize philanthropy, aka four ways to reduce obstacles for applying for foundation support at a time when it is urgently needed. Read more.
  • Richard Tofel, founding manager and president of ProPublica and the investigative news operation's first employee, has announced that he will retire after 14 years in the role. ProPublica was founded in 2007 with a $10 million investment from the Sandler Foundation. Philanthropist Herb Sandler and his wife Marion believed deeply in nonpartisan, high-quality journalism. Read more.
  • Baltimore Sun Media, which operates The Baltimore Sun, is set to be acquired by the Sunlight for All Institute, a nonprofit formed by businessman and philanthropist Stewart Bainum Jr. Read more.
  • "Crip Camp," a film by Barack and Michelle Obama's Higher Ground Productions that documents the disability revolution in America, has been nominated for a Spirit Award for Best Documentary. The Film Independent awards ceremony will be broadcast on April 22. Read more.
  • Katherine Maher, CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation, has announced she will step down in April. We recently heard from one of Wikimedia's senior communications directors, Anusha Alikhan, about how the foundation supports a digital public square that puts people over profit. Read more.
  • Registration is open for the Frank gathering, taking place virtually on April 29. Not the same as packing everyone into the beloved Hippodrome in Gainesville, Fla., but we'll take what we can get! Read more.
Copyright © 2021 Media Impact Funders, All rights reserved.

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