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Giving Compass' Take:
• Equity First explains the challenges and opportunities for journalism philanthropy to advance equity in newsrooms.
• What role can you play in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in newsrooms near you?
• Learn more about how philanthropy can support media and journalism.
Given the changing demographic of American communities (by the year 2045, people of color will make up the majority of the U.S. population), there is an opportunity for journalism organizations to reach audiences who have been historically ignored by the mainstream narrative. Now more than ever, the public has embraced credible journalism as an essential and vital service, and many news organizations have a unique chance to win the loyalty of new audiences who have not engaged with their content before.
As Pew’s State of the Media reports that newsrooms continue to struggle financially, many newsrooms are pivoting towards nonprofit models for philanthropic support. Despite the fact that philanthropic dollars seem to be growing for journalism, monetary support for DEI has been lackluster. According to the Democracy Fund and Dot Connector Studio, of the $1.1 billion in philanthropic support that went to journalism between 2013 and 2017, only around 8% went to DEI-focused efforts.
A number of journalism funders are making progress on their own DEI journeys. The establishment of dedicated program officers and entire programs specifically focused on DEI indicates that the concept is gaining prominence within some philanthropic institutions. The next step is to normalize DEI as a priority across the field, so that it is seen as central to the work of journalism grantmaking.
- There is dissonance in the translation of the ethics and values of journalism to DEI best practices.
- Change is difficult because journalism & philanthropy reinforce each other’s hegemonic cultures.
- Inclusion and equity are less tangible than diversity, and thus more difficult for foundations to address.
- Redefine “Innovation” Using an Equity Lens: Experiment with Flexible Dollars
- Reject the Scarcity Mindset: Work Harder to Find and Support Emerging Talent
- Apply Data with an Intentional Equity Lens
- Equalize the FunderGrantee Relationship
- Map and Reform Decision-Making Power with Regard to Moving Dollars
Journalism’s current cultural context provides an opportunity to rethink the role of grantmaker. Funders have an opportunity to move both the field of philanthropy and the industry of journalism forward by taking leadership in centering DEI within their institutions and grantmaking processes to support journalism with a truly community-centered approach, building long-term trust with its evolving communities. We’re seeing promising examples of this through explicit language in requests for proposals for grants that include prioritizing serving marginalized communities from Google News Initiative and COVID-19 rapid response funds sponsored by the Facebook Journalism Project and the Chicago COVD-19 Journalism Fund led by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation in Chicago.