Journalism & Media Grant Guidelines


The Journalism and Media program seeks to promote and amplify just and inclusive news and narratives, based on the belief that accurate and compelling media plays an important role in informing, engaging, and activating individuals and groups to take part in democratic practices and processes.

To build and strengthen organizations creating and disseminating just, accurate, and inclusive news and narratives, the program supports work in three areas:

  • Professional Nonprofit Reporting
  • Nonfiction Multimedia Storytelling
  • Participatory Civic Media

In each of the three areas, the program pursues the following objectives:

  • Build strong, independent, and sustainable organizations and networks that anchor a resilient and independent media ecosystem designed to meet the needs of a diverse democratic society.
  • Address barriers that limit the creation of, access to, or participation in media activities, including the legal, safety, digital security, and technological challenges facing organizations and individuals.
  • Promote learning, leadership, innovation, and field-building opportunities that explore timely and emerging issues related to production, dissemination, and engagement with journalism and media.

Our Journalism and Media program supports U.S.-based nonprofit institutions with national reach and influence. In a few cases, we support regional and place-based organizations that are exemplars in their fields and provide a model for others to replicate. We also support journalism and media in Chicago, where the Foundation is located.

What We Fund

Professional Nonprofit Reporting

We fund the following types of organizations:

  • National nonprofit journalism organizations that pursue explanatory, investigative, and/or international reporting primarily for American audiences.
  • National organizations that work to protect press freedom and address the safety and security challenges facing journalists.
  • Organizations and activities that support the infrastructure for and contribute to learning and innovation in the field of nonprofit journalism.


Nonfiction Multimedia Storytelling

We fund the following types of organizations:

  • National and regional organizations that fund, produce, and/or disseminate artfully crafted nonfiction storytelling projects on contemporary social issues for broadcast, web, and mobile.
  • National and regional organizations that provide grants, fellowships, training, mentoring, and support to diversify the talent pipeline for the field of nonfiction multimedia storytelling.
  • Organizations and activities that support the infrastructure for the nonfiction multimedia sector and contribute to learning and innovation in the field of nonfiction multimedia storytelling.


Participatory Civic Media

We fund the following types of organizations:

  • National organizations that mobilize and support grassroots communities to use civic media and narrative change strategies to express and organize themselves for social change.
  • National organizations that provide civic media-related training and leadership development opportunities to build civic power in grassroots communities.
  • Organizations and activities that support the infrastructure for and contribute to learning and innovation in the field of civic media.


Journalism & Media in Chicago

Since 2016, the Jack Fuller Legacy Initiative has brought the national Journalism and Media program “to ground” in our hometown of Chicago. The goal of the initiative is to support and amplify the outstanding work of Chicago media organizations whose aims and approaches align with the program’s goal of supporting just and inclusive news and narratives. Much of this work is conducted in partnership with the Field Foundation of Illinois through its Journalism and Storytelling Program, which MacArthur and Field launched together in 2018.

This Media and Storytelling Program aims to support journalists and storytellers from Chicago communities whose insights are underrepresented in the broader media field. It provides general operating and project-based funding to community-based organizations and individuals working to generate just and inclusive narratives through the work of accountability, investigative and explanatory journalism, and through creative nonfiction projects targeted at narrative and culture change.

MacArthur provides $1 million per year for this program.

We also make a limited number of direct grants to Chicago-based organizations meeting one of three conditions:

  • The organization and/or its projects or approaches have a national reach and provide a replicable model for local journalism elsewhere.
  • The entire ecosystem or a large part of the ecosystem will benefit from the project or activity.
  • A targeted investment will have a catalytic impact on the organization.

Documentary Film

The Journalism and Media Program continues MacArthur’s deep legacy of supporting thought-provoking social issue documentary films through support of national and regional organizations that serve that serve emerging to experienced nonfiction multimedia storytellers. This reflects our understanding of the important role of organizations and institutions for the independent documentary ecosystem.

These organizations support documentary films, filmmakers, and nonfiction media producers through open calls, fellowships, labs, and networks. This is in place of MacArthur’s previous support directly to film projects.

From the 1980s – 2016, the Journalism and Media program funded more than 300 documentary projects with direct grants: a cumulative investment of $50 million. View a list of documentary film projects supported by MacArthur.

We encourage filmmakers and film teams seeking support to explore the funding opportunities offered by MacArthur’s partner organizations. These organizations deploy MacArthur resources in a way that allows many more filmmakers, artists, and journalists to find the support they need to tell stories that inform, engage, uplift social movements, and compel viewers to make changes in themselves or their communities.

Current Partners:


MacArthur also supports documentary film support organizations around the United States and U.S. Territories through Color Congress.

We are not accepting unsolicited proposals at this time. However, contact us to share new ideas and perspectives.